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Liam Fox to pledge greater control by military chiefs of armed forces

By Paul Goodman

FOX LIAM SMILING Noon update: The full text is here.  Fox said that "the cuts that we are facing are Labour's cuts".  Lord Levene is to chair the Defence Review Unit, and I see that Baroness Noakes, a member of George Osborne's team in Opposition, will sit on it.  The Defence Secretary said: "I will announce other members of this team in due course. An MOD implementation team will complete the blueprint for reform by September 2011."

The main Ministerial speech of the day looks to be Liam Fox's later this morning.  It hasn't been briefed out extensively in advance, but the Press Association is running some of the main points.  The Defence Secretary will apparently promise to give military chiefs greater control over the armed forces.   According to PA - 

The move is part of efforts to "decentralise" the Ministry of Defence to make it more efficient and effective...Dr Fox, who just returned from his second visit to Afghanistan as a minister, will outline his vision for the MoD's future in a speech in London. The Royal Navy, Army and RAF are set to see personnel numbers reduced and equipment projects axed as a result of the ongoing strategic defence and security review (SDSR).

Reports suggested the Army could lose one of its brigades in Germany, the Navy could see one of two new aircraft carriers cancelled, the Royal Marines could be brought under the Army's control and the RAF could shrink to its smallest size since the First World War. Dr Fox is not expected to give any specific commitments on cuts in his speech at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, but he will stress the need for "healthy finances".

Dr Fox will suggest reorganising the MoD into three pillars, of Policy and Strategy, the Armed Forces, and Procurement and Estates. There will also need to be a "cultural shift which will see a leaner and less centralised organisation combined with devolved processes which carry greater accountability and transparency". Dr Fox will announce that a Defence Reform Unit is being set up under Lord Levene to guide the "hard thinking" and complement the SDSR.

"I will ask the Defence Reform Unit to work with the Permanent Secretary, Chief of the Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs to find ways of devolving greater responsibility for the running of the Services themselves," Dr Fox is to say. "We need to review all our current practices to ensure that we are using our greatest asset - our people - to the best of their ability.

More when we have it.


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