Privatised British defence force more efficient
The British spend less on defence every year than France and about the same amount as Germany (see figure) http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba391/figure.gif, yet of all the countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), only the United Kingdom has the capability to deploy advanced military assets to far-flung theatres of operation in support of U.S. forces. From its peak in the mid-1980s, British defence spending has declined more than 30 percent to a current level of 2.7 percent of GDP.
There are a number of factors explaining why, including the British defence forces superior training and traditionally strong leadership. But in recent years, the most decisive factor has been its willingness to do what no other European country will consider: privatise the defence force.
Like all Western defence forces, the British forces have undergone significant budget reductions since the end of the Cold War.
The British Army's manpower was reduced by a third, and Britain faced the difficult choice of either continuing to reduce its forces or further slow the pace of modernisation.
In response, both Conservative and Labour governments engaged in a series of defence privatisation contracts totalling $4.6 billion.
As a result, by 1998 nearly 200 non-combat defence activities had been privatised for an estimated saving of $685 million (33 percent).
Privatisation reached virtually every sector of Britain's defence establishment, including: airfields, dockyards and Army bases; personnel recruitment and training; equipment supply and maintenance; military satellites; Internet services; payroll; research facilities; and logistical support and transport.
Funds that are saved from non-combatant military spending will allow the defence force to purchase new combat technology that will increase its fighting efficiency, including replacing the Royal Air Force's aging Hercules transports and Harrier jets and aging Invincible Class aircraft carriers.
Source: Wess Mitchell, Privatising Defence: Britain Leads The Way, Brief Analysis No. 391, March 29, 2002, NCPA.
For text http://www.ncpa.org/ba/ba391/
For more on Privatisation http://www.ncpa.org/iss/pri/
FMF Policy Bulletin/03 April 2002
Publish date: 09 April 2002
The views expressed in the article are the author’s and are not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.