Last August the Defence Secretary commissioned Lord Levene to lead an independent and thorough review into how Defence is structured and managed.
The report by Lord Levene and a team of external experts has today been published in line with the principles for reform set out by the Secretary of State.
There are several recommendations within the report and Dr Fox has said he agrees with all of them. The key ones are:
- extra powers for the Single Service Chiefs to run their Services, including increased control of equipment programmes and greater freedom to flex within their budgets, as part of a much clearer framework of accountability and control
- a smaller but stronger and more strategic Defence Board that will take major decisions, set direction, and hold the Services and the rest of the Department to account
- the creation of a new Joint Forces Command, with a new Military Commander, to oversee and integrate joint military capabilities which currently sit across the three Single Services - including cyber warfare and military intelligence - to foster an increasingly joint approach within Defence as a whole
- a greater focus on affordability, with enhanced budgetary discipline and a cost-conscious mentality at every level of the Ministry of Defence
- streamlined decision-making supported by a simpler structure with fewer senior posts, clearer responsibilities, and greater accountability
- making better use of people, including filling posts with the right person, with the right skills, and keeping them in post for longer
- new, more joint personnel management for senior military officers.
Dr Fox said:
Since becoming Defence Secretary, I have been determined to bring the way the MOD is run into the 21st century. The Department’s existing structure and lack of accountability contributed to the dire financial position we inherited.
We must take action to tackle the drivers of structural financial instability and the institutional lack of accountability endemic across Defence, dealing with the root of our problems as well as the problems themselves.
Lord Levene’s report will help us deliver this, beginning the most radical shake up the MOD has seen in a generation. Together with the Chief of the Defence Staff and Permanent Secretary, I will transform Lord Levene’s recommendations into meaningful change.
One of the key recommendations of the report is to empower the military, allowing Single Service Chiefs to take greater control of their own allocated budgets and advise on the best balance between manpower, training, equipment and support etc that are needed to deliver the Defence requirement.
This will ensure that they can drive capability planning. New oversight measures will ensure they will be properly held to account for so doing.
Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, said:
I welcome Lord Levene’s recommendations to restructure the Armed Forces and align authority, accountability and responsibility.
The focus on strategic planning and operations and the restoration of control to the Service Chiefs will be vital to maintaining operational effectiveness as we implement the SDSR [Strategic Defence and Security Review] while fighting two wars.
The creation of the new Joint Forces Command will ensure we continue to develop close working relationships between the three Services and their integration with new capabilities such as cyber operations.
Lord Levene’s report, ‘Defence Reform - an independent report into the structure and management of the Ministry of Defence’, also recommends a review of all senior non-front line military and civilian posts to determine whether they are needed and, if so, whether they should be civilian or military.
Lord Levene said:
The financial crisis in Defence that the Government is tackling has been well-documented.
We looked into the underlying organisational causes of the crisis and found that the way Defence is structured and managed contributed to the loss of control over the budget, and needs to change.
As a result, many of the proposals in our report are designed to help prevent Defence from falling back into such a poor financial situation in the future. That is not a distraction from providing the military capability the country needs; it is essential to it.
Our Armed Forces are renowned across the world for their professionalism and expertise.
Our proposals aim to build on the strengths of the individual Services and the Civil Service but within a stronger single Defence framework to ensure the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
We found a real appetite for far-reaching reform among the many talented civilian and military people in Defence; it is now up to them to make it happen.
Work on the report commenced last summer when the Defence Secretary asked Lord Levene to lead an independent review of how Defence is structured and managed along with a group of senior leaders from the private sector and a supporting team within the Ministry of Defence.
The MOD will publish a blueprint setting out all the major changes the Department is embarked on later this year.
See Related Links to read the Defence Reform report in full and Dr Liam Fox’s speech on reforming Defence delivered at the Reform Think Tank in London.