This book was written by Lewis Page, late of the Royal Navy where he spent some happy years. He is not a disgruntled rating turned communist agitator. He was a officer who has told the truth about the featherbedding in the Ministry of Defence and annoyed a lot of senior officers who have do very little, expensively at a great length while the men who actually serve, carry rifles, face real danger are paid far less than they deserve. Mr Page also writes rather well for The Register, a cheerful magazine for computer men. You can buy the book from Amazon - see Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs: Waste and Blundering in the Military. A reprint is on the way. Of course you could ask your local library for a copy instead.
Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs by Lewis Page
The past blunders which he highlights - for which no one has been forced to accept the blame, so opaque is the accountability of both armed services and the MoD - are history. What matters more are his pointers for the future. It is all here. Lewis Page details the ridiculous excess of senior officers for our shrinking services (over 40 major-generals for just two army divisions, 46 Royal Navy admirals and 88 commodores, 340 RAF group-captains and 40 air marshals). He describes the fantastic procurement blunders. There was the decision that Britain should build its own Apache helicopters, at a cost of £40 million apiece, while the Israelis bought theirs off the shelf from the Americans for £12 million. There are the scandals of the Merlin anti-submarine helicopter and the SA80 rifle, and the fact that the RAF possesses 150 uniformed men per deployable aircraft, more than double the ratio of the Israeli air force.
Defence procurement has a track record of gross incompetence and that is the kindest thing that can be said for it. Look at the diaries of a major general in his last eighteen months, the contracts he signs and the well paid job that he gets when he leaves. Then wonder about corruption.
A Tale of Carriers
If you doubt Lewis Page read what Fred has to say. Fred was in the US Marine Corps, made it to Viet Nam for free then had his very own stretcher when he went back. Fred is getting on now and knows that wars happen and people get hurt. The fun of it no longer appeals.
Cost Effective Defence
Is a subject that should be near to our hearts if we pay tax. It is one that appalls generals, admirals and air marshals because they are highly paid to do nothing. They are keen on wasting our money on their hobby machines such as destroyers and frigates. They were the right kit once more or less. Now they are hugely expensive irrelevances. Lewis Page explains.