However, I'm a great believer that you can get a really good idea for what the paper is saying by how it's presented. Each chapter is introduced with an image, showing our military doing what it does best. These are the sort of images to show the cool stuff you want your forces to be doing, they're supposed to blend into the overall impression this report is actually supposed to recommend.
I figure we can use these images to provide a fairly handy view of what the contents of the paper (and of course what the outcome of the Defence Review will actually be). Have a look at the picture below, which shows every single image through the entire report.
Let's have a look at what we've got here:
Intro: Soldiers carrying Afghan civilians - Army
1: Nuclear Deterrent - RN
2: Solders somewhere Dusty - Army
3: Looks like RN Sea Kings dropping off Marines - RN
4: Solider somewhere dusty AND helping civilians - Army
5: A Sailor - RN
6: You can almost imagine the problems with the sixth image. We've had three from the Army and three from the RN. Shit! We'll have to find an image from the RAF, but what can we possibly use? Typhoons look too expensive, VC10s and C17s are too busy to get a photo, Reaper is somewhere hot and sandy and everyone knows the RAF can't be there, so we'll have to use a photo of a Chinook. Besides, Gordon has announced that he's buying a few more, so lets stick a photo of that in.
Well, it looks like the future of defence has been decided. Lots of solders operating in sandy places. Submarines with plenty of nukes to keep the Russians / Chinese at bay and air-support only where it's directly transporting troops. Maybe a big ship or two (like HMS Ocean, a massive success) but nothing small and useful.
What's missing? A list of the top of my head would quickly include: ISTAR, Frigates, Armoured Ground Units (APCs would be useful and haven't we bought a huge number of those recently), anything that flies that's not a troop transport (so: CAS, AT, UCAVs, etc).
Can we use these images to come up with an idea of what the Defence Review will actually say? Of course not! It's several months away and under (hopefully) a different government.
Well, let's do it anyway. Afterall, if I'm completely wrong, I'll forget I ever wrote this post but if I'm right..
- Looks like the Army have won the war between the services.
- We're going to only be fighting in sandy places in the future - even the Marines are landing on somewhere sandy (though with some green trees in the background).
- Lots of Hearts and Minds work in those sandy places, minimal focus on actually shooting anything
- There will be no need for anything expensive, aside from maybe a big ship or two, particularly if they're built in Scotland (got to keep the Labour voters on-side)
- Can the RAF, in fact can anything that's not directly related to keeping the soldiers on the ground happy. A2A is certainly right out, no-one has any advanced fighters any more and our friends the Russians would never sell the T-50 to anyone who doesn't like us anyway.
I've gone through the "Partnership" part of the paper. It's quite short, only 1000 words long (so about my typical blog post).
NATO appears 6 times
Europe (or European) appears 6 times
EU appears 5 times
America appears once!
US appears once!
The exact quote for the last one is: "A robust EU role in crisis management will strengthen NATO. Playing a leading role at the heart of Europe will strengthen our relationship with the US."
So, let me get this straight, the best way of dealing with the Americans is rather than talking to them directly but instead hoping our European Allies let us talk to them occasionally in the context of a multinational EU defence force?
Guess the MoD is getting itself good and ready for massive budget cuts.
We should start getting ourselves ready for the day when we have to rely on France for our National Security.
Maybe this is the final act of Labour, finally screwing the economy so badly we can't even afford to defend ourselves any more.