Defence professionals warn that review cuts will compromise future capability

Defence professionals warn that review cuts will compromise future capability

Prospect has warned that further cuts to civilian defence professionals will undermine the UK’s re-shaped national security strategy.

The Prime Minister has announced that the Ministry of Defence civilian workforce would be cut by 25,000 – from 85,000 today to 60,000 by 2015. But the Strategic Defence and Security Review did not explain where these cuts would fall or how they would be achieved.

The union for 8,000 civilian defence professionals in MOD criticised the announcement as “arbitrary and dangerous” and added that it would damage the armed forces’ capabilities and end up costing more.

National secretary Steve Jary said: “MOD civilians had been sacrificed to protect Army numbers; MOD admits that 40,000 service personnel are non-deployable and it acknowledges that much support work is done better and more cheaply by civilians. Yet the government has bowed to pressure from the Service Chiefs to hold on to jobs for the boys.”

“Prospect points to the spate of very critical reports by the House of Commons defence select committee, the report into defence acquisition by Bernard Gray and the Haddon-Cave report into the Nimrod disaster which have pinpointed the debilitating affect on MOD of cuts, outsourcing and the steady erosion of its intelligent customer role.

“The review does nothing to tackle the erosion of in-house capabilities and skills. Civilian specialists are an essential part of the defence equation. MOD needs these people if it wants to achieve its objectives. To cut this resource indiscriminately carries massive risks and will undermine the quality of support to the front-line and ultimately, the safety of our troops.”

On the new national security strategy announced by Foreign Secretary William Hague, Prospect said the new focus on cyber threats was ironic because in 2008, the department cut resources for this kind of intelligence work. Jary asked where these cyber specialists would be found. “The defence science budget has already been squeezed with year-on-year cuts of 10 per cent. The department has lost the plot when it comes to skills. These capabilities cannot be turned on or off like a tap,” said Jary.