“Admiral, I’ve been asked to invite you to choose which of your arms you would prefer me to cut off”

Jun 12, 2012   //   by NavyLookout   //   Articles, blog  //  28 Comments

Ahh come in my dear chap. Firstly Admiral I would like to pay tribute to all the hard work, bravery and sacrifices you have made in service of your country. All my colleagues in Parliament would like to say how proud we are of you and all those serving in our wonderful armed forces. I’m sure you’ll have heard by now, but due to the terrible financial mess left by my predecessor we’ve been forced to make some efficiencies. We spent a whole week conducting a very careful analysis and an in-depth review and here on the back of this fag packet is our new national strategy for defence.

In order to streamline ourselves a little, I’ve been asked to invite you to choose which of your arms you would prefer me to cut off. I know it maybe a little painful in the short-term but I’m sure you agree we have to do this for the long-term good.

I am aware that one of my predecessors cut off your lower leg a few years back and promised you that would be the last round of cuts but, given the global economic climate, we really have no choice. We are all making cutbacks you know, my goodness I’ve even had to start paying the rent on my second home! I really must emphasise that the choice of which arm I cut off is entirely up to you, remember it’s your choice which arm you prioritise, not mine – this government always listens to sound military advice.

I do realise this sort of thing can put a bit of a dampener on your morale but we must focus on the positives… By losing an arm think of the weight it will save, it will make you far more agile, responsive and light on your feet, er.. sorry I mean foot. The marvellous ‘can do attitude’ of the Royal Navy will see you through I’m sure, after all missing body parts never did Nelson any harm.

(Phone rings) Hello… yes of course, absolutely.. right away (Puts phone down) that was my boss, the accountant, he says he has found a few errors on one of his spreadsheets and it’s making things look unbalanced. So we’re going to have to lop off a couple of your toes as well I’m afraid. It’s only minor and you do get to keep your other 3 really good toes.

(A large gorilla knocks on the door an enters the room menacingly). Ah yes this is Barney, I’m sure you’ve met before, he runs the giant global corporation that has a monopoly on our defence manufacturing and I have to share an office with him. What’s that Barney?.. You would like the shirts off our backs… of course. Admiral I’m sure you understand we mustn’t upset Barney, he can cause a lot of trouble if he gets angry. Rest assured he doesn’t dictate policy in any way but he is such a source of wisdom for us when making hard choices. Now Admiral your shirt please…

I know we’re both looking forward to doing this all again in 2015. You’ll be pleased to hear those fine chaps down the hall, your brothers in arms in light blue have been working on a long-term plan with Barney to chop off your head. I can promise you it will be very gentle and you will hardly feel a thing, in fact I really doubt the public will notice at all. Keep your chin up and remember if you’re a good boy, don’t make a fuss and if the economy bounces back, which I’m sure it will, then there is a chance we could avoid such unpleasantness. We may even be able to return one of your children that I took from you.

Now if you would be kind enough to sit still and keep quiet while I go and sharpen my axe…


Useful web links about the looming decision on aircraft carriers ‘cats and traps’ and F35B or C

Apr 30, 2012   //   by NavyLookout   //   Articles  //  6 Comments

As we await the the decision by government on whether the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers currently building will be fitted with ‘cats and traps’, there is much debate and discussion about the issue. Here are a selection of some of the most informative online articles on this complex and politically charged argument.

Cameron ‘to change his mind’ on the one thing he got right in Defence

By Lewis Page, writing on ‘The Register’ – IT and technology website
Lewis Page is a controversial ex-RN officer who is a devastating critic of the shambles across UK defence procurement. In this article he highlights the vested interests of BAE Systems and the RAF who he suggests are fundamentally against the fitting of cats & traps and want to force the RN to buy F35B

‘Cats and Traps’: Launching the Carrier Debate in the Right Direction?

By Dr Lee Willett, Senior Research Fellow, Maritime Studies, RUSI
The Royal United Services Institute is the leading UK independent think tank engaged in defence and security research. RUSI have sometimes been accused of being too close to government to be objective but they are home to a cross-section of opinion and they are generally scholarly. This article decisively concludes cats and traps are the best solution.

F35-The Jet That Ate the Pentagon

US Website foreign Policy.com
Arguing the F35 is so insanely expensive and so flawed the programme should be cancelled. Ouch!

Alarm over new navy jet costs

By Mike Powell, Portsmouth News defence correspondent
Highlighting US government audit which shows the F35 programme is already $15bn over budget

Rear Admiral Chris Parry Speaking on BFBS TV about the Carrier Project

Chris Parry is a retired RN aviator who served in the Falklands War and worked in strategic planning within the MoD. In this interview he recommends the RN lease 2 squadrons of F-18 Super Hornets, 1 for training and 1 to serve on a US Carrier to keep naval aviation skills alive and show solidarity with the US. (Note no mention of the French!)

Reversion to the F-35B would be wrong for Britain
A Critical Decision for Carrier Configuration. – ‘Angled Deck’ or ‘Ramp’ for our Queen Elizabeth class Carriers.

Sharkey Ward, writing on his own Blog ‘Sharkey’s World’.
Nigel ‘Sharkey’ Ward is an experienced RN Sea Harrier pilot who flew 60 sorties in the Falklands War. A fierce critic of the RAF and a doughty defender of carrier air power. He’s upset a lot of people in his time but most of what he says makes sense.

Of Jets and Carriers… Again

By Nick Childs, naval author writing for RUSI
Providing a more general background to the carrier debate.

Cameron’s warplane shot down as cost of converting aircraft carriers to fly them trebles

The Daily Mail website
One of many press reports that prematurely announced that govt had chosen F35B. The Daily Mail is often slightly hysterical in its reporting style but at least it attempts some sort of coverage of naval and defence issues. On the carrier issue we can rely on the mainstream media to focus on the political embarrassment for the government if they do a ‘U-turn’ and revert to F35B, rather than the actual long-term impact on the capabilities of a of the carriers.

The QE class carrier debacle is clouding real maritime security issues

Defence Management website
Makes the important point that the issues around the carriers may have distracted from other debates about the size and balance of the RN’s future fleet.
(We remain every bit as concerned about the size of the submarine force and the decline in frigate and destroyer numbers!)