It took until 2006, five years into the Afghan campaign and three into Iraq, for the MoD to decide its primary focus was “strategic success” in the two wars “in the context of countering global terrorism”, he writes. “The question of MoD priorities was not clarified until the Defence Board held an 'away day’ of discussions in late October.” The situation “defied logic”, he adds.If those two wars weren't the priority, what was? It beggars belief that the whole of MOD wasn't focused on them.
Which is why we get this outburst as well, with which I have some sympathy:
He claims civil servants live in a “cocooned environment”, where vested interests come first, meaning “the man on the ground has been short-changed”.One of my last jobs in the army was working in a department with a very high number of civil servants and I had one working alongside me, although he claimed that as his military equivalent rank was a major he somehow had control.
Anyway, without exception they all knew exactly what they ere entitled to and how to get the most out of the system. If we were going away on a job my own civil servant wanted to be picked up at 0555hrs, as this was before 0600hrs, the cut off time for him to get a hardship allowance. He would only go to Cyprus every two years as he only go a warm weather allowance every other year and wouldn't have got one in between. And the amount of time lost discussing which civil servants were entitled to their own desk, carpet, hat stand and other trivia used to send our military boss round the bend.
So I can sympathise with General Dannatt, especially as his civil servants were putting lives as risk:
He describes how nine years after being agreed, a much-needed scheme to acquire a set of armoured vehicles collapsed in a bureaucratic mire. He spent a day with an American equivalent system in 2008, he says. “It nearly broke my heart. They had almost exactly what we needed”. Gen Dannatt writes that when he took over as Chief of the General Staff in 2006, it was clear there was little political appetite for a rethink of the defence budget.