Tories pledge to get MoD's house in order by axing top brass

A CONSERVATIVE government would review Britain's defence establishment and slash the number of top brass and Ministry of Defence civilian staff.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox is due to announce the moves in a speech today, in which he says it is time for the MoD to "get its house in order" and redirect resources from Whitehall to the overstretched frontline troops in Afghanistan.

In the speech he promises a "radical root and branch reform" of the procurement process to improve purchase and delivery of equipment for the armed forces.

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At present, there is one civil servant in the MoD for every two members of the armed forces, while the 28,000 staff working on procurement almost match the size of the entire 34,000-strong Royal Navy, Dr Fox says.

And he adds that all three services have questions to answer over the number of officers promoted to the highest and best-paid ranks, due to a culture of "Buggins' turn".

Conservatives have already promised a strategic defence review to assess the shape of armed forces that will be needed for the military threats of the future. But Dr Fox says in his speech today that an in-depth capability review must also be carried out into the structure of the armed forces and the MoD's civilian workforce in order to ensure they are best configured for the tasks they have to accomplish.

"It is time for the MoD to get its house in order," the shadow defence secretary says.

"There are questions for all three services as to whether they have an over-abundance of senior posts.

"How do we reward merit and excellence and end the absurdity of the Buggins' turn culture, and how do we stop the trend where the military seems consistently to shrink while the civil service keeps growing?"

The recent Gray Review has shown that the MoD's procurement process is "broken", Dr Fox says.

Under a Conservative government, procurement will be "the servant, not the master, of the strategic defence review and capability review".

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In today's speech Dr Fox adds: "The thousands of hardworking civil servants and military personnel working in procurement have been let down by a failed system.

"All options for reform, no matter how radical, are on the table.

"Right now the MoD needs a new vision, fresh thinking, and new leadership that only a new government has the energy and confidence to provide.

"You can delegate authority, but not responsibility. Labour ministers are to blame for the failings at the Ministry of Defence – not the civil service or the armed forces.

"Increasingly the public are wakening up to the sorry state of defence under Labour. It is likely to be an election issue for the first time since the end of the Cold War."


FIRST Minister Alex Salmond and Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy are to attend a commemoration service for soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The cross-faith celebration will be led by the Bishop of Motherwell, the Rt Rev Dr Joseph Devine, and held at Motherwell Cathedral on 29 October. Representatives of the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, and the Jewish and Muslim faiths will also take part; as will Mgr Richard Moth, who is to be ordained as the next Roman Catholic Bishop of the Armed Forces.

The announcement came just days after the bodies of two Scottish soldiers killed in Afghanistan – Private Kevin Elliott, 24, from Dundee, and Sergeant Stuart Millar, 40, from Inverness of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland – were returned to Britain.