Analysis: Evolution rather than revolution may be sensible option for MoD changes

Academics from Cranfield University and RUSI are not the first ones to be saying the Ministry of Defence should be reorganised.

Everyone from the lowest rating to some of our most senior military commanders have been muttering in their beer in this vein for years. Many feel the MoD, based in central Whitehall, is out of touch with those at sea, in the air, or in the ditches of distant Helmand province. How can some pen-pusher, whose main priority is to catch the train home to Orpington in time for tea, ever really understand what is going on out in the field?

But most organisations, not only the military, have a healthy disregard for the "high heid yins", so the question is, how unhealthy has our MoD really become?

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Is it coincidence that in the last round of defence cuts a khaki-wearing Chief of the Defence Staff appeared to save the Army from the worse of the cuts, while the RAF and the Royal Navy were absolutely savaged? Would it have been different if a light blue chap had been in charge?

The answer is probably yes - but in this particular case only for a short while. The Army knows full well that it will get its comeuppance in the next round, which is not many months away now that a United States timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan has actually been itemised.

Apart from ever-dwindling resources, the MoD's real enemy is time shrinkage and the need to be operating 24/7 in the dotcom age - an infantry corporal now commands the area a battalion commander used to cover. Quite how that Orpington commuter manages to keep up - or even better, be ahead - is one of the reasons this latest think-tank is saying it is time for "revolution" in Whitehall.

Certainly the time for an overhaul of the defence equipment procurement system is long overdue. For the rest, "evolution" rather than revolution might be the more sensible option - especially when no-one knows whether it is a "Spring" or some other season round the next bend.

• Clive Fairweather is a former deputy commander of the SAS