Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Twice as much for less protection

With the results of the closely-fought M-ATV contract to supply off-road protected vehicles to the US armed forces in Afghanistan being announced yesterday, US Armed Forces are to get their protected vehicles for Afghanistan at half the cost paid by the British MoD, which has selected one of the unsuccessful bidders.

This is another classic example of MoD waste, strengthening the argument that throwing money at defence is not going to solve its structural problems.

Sadly, this message is not percolating into the general consciousness. In The Daily Telegraph letters column today, for instance, we get Philip Congdon, writing from La Bastide d'Engras, Gard, France, opining that, "the real problem is profligate spending on a myriad public-funded schemes, many of which have wasted billions of pounds and achieved nothing."

He is, rightly, referring to the enormous waste in the public sector generally, and it is certainly an argument that, had so much money not been wasted, defence could have been better funded.

However, up front in the ranks of waste is the MoD. Over term, we have identified billions than have been poured down the drain for little or no effect. Thus, while a case can be made for more defence spending, the more important issue is to improve the spending performance of the MoD. Otherwise, we are just throwing good money after bad.

More on Defence of the Realm.