Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240-260)
WEDNESDAY 28 NOVEMBER 2001
GARDEN, KCB, AND
240. But it does imply a common NATO standard.
(Sir Tim Garden) That is what NATO does, sets standards
241. But a NATO standard that encompass all
the things that the US does not want to do.
(Sir Tim Garden) Up a point.
242. Why do you say "up to a point"?
If it is going to work
(Sir Tim Garden) We make a great fuss about the European
Union states that are not members of NATO. Those who want play
in thisand there are those that want to play in thisand
are prepared to provide military capabilities for quite demanding
things, the Swedes for example, who will ensure that they can
fit in. In the same way NATO European nations who are not members
of the EU, and I think of Norway in this, are still interested
in being asked when we have a European operation as to whether
they can do it, and they have declared the sort of forces they
might be able to put in. There are not that many problems. I do
not think the Irish are going to be big players in this so I do
not get terribly upset about it.
Mr Howarth: I think we can agree on this.
243. On national missile defence we have heard
a great deal from the US administration of a determination, especially
at the start of the year, to carry on with the programme. What
is your thinking of where exactly that administration's thinking
is now and do you think it has changed since 11 September?
(Professor Rogers) There are probably two issues here.
One is that the various research programmes leading up to a possible
National Missile Defence in place are proving quite slow and difficult,
there are increasing technological problems, so the pace of the
development of a missile defence system has somewhat slowed down
in most areas, not in all. At the level of theatre missile defence
the airborne laser seems to be very much on track. There is a
slowing of the rate of development of National Missile Defence
and that may be further squeezed somewhat by defence budgets being
diverted to other areas. The United States is clearly putting
very much more money into defence. The announced increase for
the new fiscal year, the October onwards fiscal year, is roughly
equivalent to Britain's entire defence budget, the extra money
the US is putting in, but there may be quite a squeezing on the
missile defence side. At the same time the second component is
by all accounts the way the administration is thinking is that
it is just as committed to missile defence as it was before 11
September. In a rather curious way it has conflated it all into
threats from outside, whether they are missile threats or whether
they are threats by asymmetric means. The thinking fairly basic
and that is 11 September proves that "people are out to threaten
us". At that level it is, if anything, giving rather more
support for missile defence. The counter-argument that it demonstrates
that people do not have to develop billion dollar missile programmes
to threaten the United States does not seem to be carrying much
weight at present.
244. Will the new relationship between the United
States and Russia after 11 September have a bearing on that?
(Professor Rogers) It might do. It is worth remembering
though that the proposed nuclear cutbacks are not going to be
codified into any treaty form and they will not be verifiable
and there is scope for maintaining very high levels of reserves.
In any case, President Putin is on such a roll at present in terms
of his position in the international community that he is perhaps
less bothered about opposing a missile defence programme and in
the longer term China is probably the more significant country.
245. Do you think there are any lessons here
for the United Kingdom, for example?
(Professor Rogers) I suppose the only thing is that
as missile defence goes ahead in the United States, Britain's
involvement will be maintained at a particular level, Menwith
Hill and Fylingdales are significant, and there may be just a
continuation of the debate about the advisability of missile defence
in Britain. I do not see other major implications for Britain.
As far as I know there is no serious intent to develop a very
large scale missile defence programme for Europe at the present
time, on the grounds of cost if nothing else.
(Sir Tim Garden) If I could just add to that. For
once I support Paul on this but it seems to me that they are
246. Professor Rogers is getting very worried
now, you can see the look of fear in his eyes.
(Sir Tim Garden) They seem as intent on it even though
the logic is now much less, although the logic before was not
desperately good. The extra dimension in this is the European
antipathy to it will now be much quieter because it will be felt
inappropriate to stir up trans-Atlantic tensions over something
like that and I think most of us actually believe that in the
end it will go like all the rest of them, it will run out of money,
they will not be able to get the technology. We will wait and
see what Putin's final thinking on the ABM Treaty is but I am
not so sure he is prepared to give on that, I think he is playing
quite a clever game which keeps on stopping the US from breaching
the ABM Treaty because they hope they are going to get some negotiated
settlement which is going to be all right. I think we will just
have to grin and bear it now and eventually it will peter out
as every previous attempt has.
247. To follow up that point, obviously there
is going to be a lot of pressure on defence budgets in the United
States, even though they have been increased, but do you think
there will come a time when Congress or public opinion will get
to the pointyou have already said the thing will not work
in practicewhere it will mean that they will have to cut
back on other budgets to pay for missile defence? Is that when
the internal politics and the Pentagon will start saying "is
this worth doing"?
(Sir Tim Garden) That was happening before 11 September.
The US Defence Budget, although it is so enormous, was suffering
from exactly the same problems as the European Defence Budgets,
that is they have got too much in the programme, not enough money
and people problems. The pressures against what is a very specialised
capability will be internal Pentagon pressures when the opportunity
costs become clear, that you are going to have to lose your new
aircraft programme or your new ship programme or whatever in order
to fund this. However, I think there is such a strong push from
the administration and its various members on it that they will
have to continue doing progressive testing but it is going to
be a bit slower. George Bush certainly could not ever say "I
have given up the project", so that is either four or eight
years, is it not?
(Professor Rogers) The pressures do come very much
from what you might call the civilian security advisers and the
defence industries. There are obviously major factions within
the Pentagon that are in favour of it but much larger groups within
the Pentagon that are much more dubious and are very concerned
about their own departmental budgets.
248. When we come on to doing our inevitable
Lessons of Afghanistan, as we have done lessons of every war we
have fought since this Committee was established, can you perhaps
elaborate on what you said earlier. At this stage of the game
can you see equipment being refocused in the sense of what the
Americans have been doing, "well, hell, we want bombs that
penetrate enormous bunkers"? Do we need more of something?
Would you elaborate slightly? I know our role has been fairly
limited. I am very sceptical of whoever wrote the story about
the Eurofighter, I am not quite sure where the ground crew are
and I am not quite sure what an air superiority aircraft would
be doing in Afghanistan where, as far as I can see, there is not
much of an air force. That being set aside, what do you both think
at this stage might be on the agenda for a different type of equipment,
assuming it can be afforded, which I would have some doubts on?
(Sir Tim Garden) I would not see any major significant
equipment need to the United Kingdom that stems from this. We
are not planning nationally a capability that will allow us to
conduct on our own an operation like this. At the moment it is
not within the definition of the Petersberg Tasks, Europe is not
doing it, so it is either NATO or the US with an ad hoc coalition
and, as we have said, the US have the capability to do this. If
we wish to show that we are involved and have got political support
we have got some nice little niche capabilities: the bizarre fact
that Royal Air Force air-to-air refuelling aircraft can refuel
the US Navy's aircraft whereas the US Air Force cannot, it happened
that we had a real useful capability; the fact that the Canberra
in its fifty-fifth year or thereabouts could provide a photographic
reconnaissance capability which really is second to none, we did
that in Rwanda as well. These sorts of things. I suppose the one
element that we do not go into in any great detail is that we
do have a respected set of Special Forces that we can use. By
their nature they are small in number in that to be special they
have got to have done everything else beforehand and you cannot
produce that big a force. I think perhaps the Special Forces had
been sitting a bit in the doldrums before because they were not
seen as having a full role in the sort of world that we were talking
about, although they do in fact have some useful ones. Maybe we
need to look at whether they are properly equipped, that is not
big money, and whether they are properly resourced in terms of
manpower, that could be an area to look at. The other one that
I really would look at, and it is not for the war in Afghanistan
but September 11, is what are we doing with the Reserves.
Chairman: We will bring you back on that, I
am sure. Maybe we want to bring into our inquiry Lessons of Saif
Sareea because there seem to be more lessons learned for us there
than over the water.
249. If you were putting an army together would
you suggest that the British Army should have a significant element
of tanks, for example?
(Sir Tim Garden) I personally would not.
Chairman: He is a helicopter man.
250. Realistically on what our role is going
to be you have to start making those sorts of decisions, do you
(Sir Tim Garden) We do not have very many as it is.
One of the problems with having a small number is you still need
the ability to deploy them so it scales what you are doing.
251. It ties up other resources.
(Sir Tim Garden) Going back to Paul's thing about
sharing in Europe, there are others who do have a lot of tanks
so if we happen to find we need them, could we not
252. They are there. These are the sorts of
decisions that we have to face up to and the Strategic Defence
Review refused to do that, did it not?
(Sir Tim Garden) We attempted to be a small United
States, which is what we have done all the time. We have always
talked about keeping a broad range of capabilities, although that
is not totally true because we have got rid of the diesel submarines
so we do not have any diesel submarine capability and we have
got rid of the tactical nuclear capability. We have very few space
capabilities anywhere in Europe compared to the United States.
We have given up some capabilities but by and large the UK has
taken the view that it should have a little of everything. That
is a problem when you start shrinking in terms of your budget,
that you want to keep a little of everything, because your overheads
to support the little capability rise as a proportion of the costs.
253. It comes back to your point, does it not,
about Special Forces? If you have something that you are really
good at and they are not properly resourced either in manpower
or equipment then that is an area that we ought to be putting
pressure on to see some changes.
(Sir Tim Garden) You may be very good at something
and it may no longer be necessary, that is one of the problems.
You have got to start from what it is that you are forecasting
you are going to need to be doing. We can be terribly good at
something which no longer has any relevance. Getting the prediction
of the future that you are trying to operate in is important.
254. Is it good policy to build an aircraft
carrier which needs two-thirds of its aircraft to defend it?
(Sir Tim Garden) I could not possibly comment. I have
been accused of being an airman over tanks.
Mr Hancock: Or do you have a bigger aircraft
carrier that has a more offensive capability?
Rachel Squire: I am just reminding you of the
British tradition of shipbuilding and the jobs that are associated
Mr Hancock: I want to see a bigger one, not
255. Ignore the fact that the tanks are in my
(Sir Tim Garden) This is the bit that horrifies me,
Chairman, if I may just make a point from a military perspective.
We are talking about real threats, we are talking about putting
people into combat, and there is nothing worse than hearing a
discussion by politicians on the effect on jobs in their constituency
because what we do is we end up buying inferior equipment, over-pricednot
always as capable as it might bethere is a pressure to
do that and from a military perspective if you want fighting forces
that can do the job you should buy the best equipment to do it
at the best price and that does not necessarily always mean that
it is built in a shipyard or a factory in the United Kingdom,
I am afraid.
256. We must take your admonition in the spirit
in which it was given. We promise we will not fight for our constituency
interests if you promise, as a former flier, not to appear on
television pontificating about a country that you have never flown
over. I think we should have regard for each other's weaknesses.
(Professor Rogers) Thank you very much, Chairman.
In response to your particular point about the implications for
forces, I would agree with Tim, I do not think there are huge
implications from 11 September, the implications lie much more
with the need for far greater thinking about the extent to which
this is a grim symptom of future problems. This is where I think
there is a much greater need for joined up thinking across Government
departments and although there has been some progress it is still
257. Before I ask Syd, who has been amazingly
patient, I doubt whether you would, Professor Rogers, more likely
in the case of Tim Garden, but if you were in defence manufacturing
would you be looking pretty sick at the moment or would you be
thinking "ah, opportunities"?
(Professor Rogers) If I were a defence manufacturer
I would look to diversify into wind and wave power as quickly
as I could.
258. That would solve the problem.
(Sir Tim Garden) I think that is right. The signs
are that the continuing decline in defence spending and that less
of it will go on equipment anyway are there and unless there is
a radical reappraisal, which I would argue for, then it will continue
to be a pretty sorry story.
259. One of the major interests the Americans
have is surveillance. There is satellite surveillance and unmanned
aircraft surveillance, which we are pretty weak on, certainly
in Europe. If we look to Europe we would have to expand that role
if we wanted to be able to operate independently without the Americans,
and we cannot match them. You talked earlier about European countries
to work within a defined budget would have to specialise on different
things they are good at and what worries me is if a particular
country in Europe says "Okay, we will do the surveillance
part" or "we will do the heavy lift part" or "we
will do something else" and they specialise, if they do not
all agree to join in the club on a mission, the one which rules
the specialisation, the whole thing cannot work. It is a rather
big question and it is worrying me that the role we are taking
in Europe and the way we are going, especially with defence budgets
constrained and the specialisation, it is never going to work.
(Sir Tim Garden) That is why I am not desperately
enthusiastic about specialisation, I am much more enthusiastic
about pooling and supra-national capabilities like NATO AWACS.
Surveillance is an absolute example of why Europe should fund
together to provide a capability that European nations can then
draw upon. The ones who are not involved will not be involved
for that particular operation but the capability will have been
funded. It is so expensive it has got to be done that way.
260. I am talking about a European facility
as opposed to a British facility loaned to Europe.
(Sir Tim Garden) Yes, but Britain could call upon
Chairman: Thank you, gentlemen. I would not
remotely say that talking about death and destruction could be
enjoyable but it was very, very interesting and we are all grateful
for your attendance and the helpfulness of your comments, thank