By William Bowles
28 October 2009
The report on the explosion that blew an RAF Nimrod out of the sky over Helmand Province on 2 September, 2006 in which fourteen people died, was released today and it confirms my view of British military ‘adventures’ that I expressed in ‘Lest we forget?’. The report even names names of extremely high ranking officers as being directly culpable for their deaths.
But chief amongst the ‘shortcomings’ as the BBC describes them, is:
“A safety culture that has allowed “business” to eclipse airworthiness”
The two major business culprits named are of course BAE Systems and QinetiQ, both not named in the BBC’s very perfunctory story today titled ‘Nimrod review reveals ‘failures’ (but BAE gets mentioned 1539 times in the Report QinetiQ gets away with being mentioned 624 times). Also not named in the BBC story were the two high-ranking officers in the RAF (General Sir Sam Cowan and his successor Air Chief Marshal Sir Malcolm Pledger). I’m talking about an Air Marshall in charge (allegedly) of logistics. In the report QinetiQ is described as “supine”. Come on Auntie Beeb, stop covering for your master! For a comparison,
“[T]he 14 men who died were, according to the QC investigating, killed by the incompetence and sloppiness of the Ministry of Defence – the organisational trauma inflicted by the politicians on the MoD – and by the incompetence, complacency and cynicism of British Aerospace.” — Channel 4 News Email
But back to BAE Systems and the privatization of state assets coupled to a thoroughly incompetent state bureaucracy in the shape of the MoD that has caused havoc to what used to belong, at least in theory, to the public that paid for it!
I’ve been trawling through the report, all 600 pages of it and came across the following instances of what a gigantic rip-off the Labour government has ‘facilitated’ under the name of ‘outsourcing’.
‘I do not believe that the current Safety Case regime represents value for money in terms of the net beneit to Airworthiness for the MOD’s financial outlay. Much of this money would be better spent on improving Airworthiness in other ways. The costs being charged by Industry for Safety Cases are very substantial. BAE Systems’ charges for Nimrod Safety Case 2, for instance, are in excess of £3 million (which at the standard rate advertised by BAE System for safety engineers of £40 per hour amounts to 75,000 man hours). As one former QinetiQ safety engineer commented: “It’s a phenomenal sum of money. You could get some of the best safety engineers in the country. You could employ York University to do that work and still make a massive profit and end up with a safety case at the end of it that is absolutely thorough, that you could hang your hat on.”’ — An unnamed witness
The report says this of BAE Systems
“BAE Systems failed to act properly as an ‘approved organisation’. It failed to carry out the NSC task in a careful, competent or thorough manner. It failed to deal with the customer, the Nimrod IPT, in an open, candid, and straightforward way. Its conduct when handing over the NSC can fairly be described as cynical.”
And on QinetiQ (formerly a government military research outfit that was sold off for a song and is now part of the Carlyle private equity monster),
“QinetiQ failed to act as a careful, competent or thorough ‘independent check’ of any sort. It was for much of the time essentially a passenger during the process. It was ultimately prepared to take the line of least resistance. Its conduct can fairly be described as supine.” p. 565
Really, it’s incredible and this has been going on for years!
“The unedifying story of the Nimrod Safety Case 2 (SC2) is a cause for concern. It has already taken over 21 months so far, has cost over £3 million, and has still not reached a satisfactory conclusion. Much of this is to do with the unsatisfactory way in which BAE Systems have approached the task (see Chapter 15). But it also re-enforces concern as to the ability of the three parties (the Nimrod IPT, BAE Systems, and QinetiQ) to work together to a common end, in a cost and time-effective manner, to produce a product worth having. The entire SC2 exercise has, in my view, been a waste of time, energy, and money.
“In the circumstances, I recommend below that the MOD should seek repayment from BAE Systems of the entire cost of Nimrod Safety Cases 1 and 2 from BAE Systems; and it is my firm view that BAE Systems should do so without demur, not least to begin to rebuild trust and con?dence which are initial elements of a healthy and effective partnership between industry and the MOD.” p.566
Fat chance! No really, this Labour government has got be the worst ruling political class this country has ever had. Corrupt and incompetent, what a combination! Slavish in its devotion to enriching the already rich.
But in selling off the country’s assets it forgot that it ruled with what used to be a paper-based bureaucracy ala Machiavelli. A tightly knit and highly controlled state bureaucracy, assembled over the past five hundred years, the so-called Mandarins, the permanent under-secretaries, the civil servants who not only carry out the orders of the ministers, to a large extent they define what the orders are in the first place.
But once Labour got busy with ‘outsourcing’ every damn thing to a bunch of thieving corporations who don’t give a shit, they’ll get paid no matter how big they fuck up, the whole thing started unravelling.
They’ve done it to education, health, legal services, transportation, communications, every major element of the modern state has been raped by Labour. And if you think the Tories will do any better, dream on, though admittedly, it’d be difficult to do worse (though I’m sure they’ll have a go at it).
This is the real setting to the Afghan ‘adventure’, lives are being sacrificed simply to make money for BAE Systems and Quinetic and all the other parasites feeding off what used to be the British state. The report says so using different words,
“The breadth, depth, and scale of ‘outsourcing’ by the MOD to Industry and its long-term effects is a matter of concern for a number of reasons. First, the long-term corrosive effect which the ‘habit’ of outsourcing is having on the ability and confidence of the Services to think and act for themselves. Second, its undermining effect on the ability of the Services to continue to act as ‘intelligent customers’. Third, the long-term damaging effect of the inexorable drain of skilled and experienced manpower at all levels away from the Services to Industry. Fourth, the cost of so much outsourcing which might more effectively, and economically, be done in-house.” (my emph. WB)
No wonder the generals are pissed off. And of course, it throws into sharp relief every damn lying word this miserable government has ever uttered about fighting the ‘war on terror’ and the sacrifices being made in the defence of freedom.
Just this single instance, one of hundreds if not thousands of ‘shortcomings’ should be enough to convince just about everyone that the ‘War on Terror’ is one gigantic confidence trick when it treats its warriors, literally on the the frontline in this concocted war with utter indifference, concerned more with greasing the bloodstained hands of its corporate masters than with bringing democracy to Afghanistan.
Lest we forget? by William Bowles
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