Examination of Witness (Questions 160
WEDNESDAY 1 MAY 2002
160. It is not going to make you popular with
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) I think that the Air
Force, by and large, has done pretty well in the past at reinventing
itself. It is always a challenge and it is always difficult, but
it is a question of seizing the future and shaping it rather than
reacting to it and being forced by it.
161. I have one or two questions about organisation
and, in saying that, I am very aware of the fact that you said
just two or three minutes ago, as I took the quote down, "It
is much more about process than organisation" and you also
went on to say, "It is also much more to do with interface."
Notwithstanding, as I understand it, you have inherited an organisation
that is divided structurally into different generic capability
management areas. Do you think that is the right way to think
about it in the future or not?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) I think there is a
danger that one can be misled by the organisational diagram. Like
all wiring diagrams, it looks a little hierarchical but that is
not the way we work. Yes, we have the Directors of Equipment Capability
brigaded under 2-star Capability Managers, but the Capability
Managers are not there to sit on top of the Directors of Equipment
Capability and secondguess them and micromanage their programmes.
They have a completely different role. Theirs is a much more strategic
role as members of the Joint Capabilities Board. Their role, with
me, is to give the strategic direction about which I was talking
earlier, to think about the cross-cutting issues, things which
are not confined to one Director of Equipment Capability but which
will be crucial to ensure that the projects that they deliver
can be used synergistically in the future. The wiring diagram
can lead you to think that it is a hierarchical upward progression
but that is not the way we work.
162. The other way of looking at it is that
the way you have just outlined it depends very much on individuals
providing, to use your word, they interface and so on that you
have mentioned and, if you have the wrong individuals, you might
get the wrong result.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Any endeavour is to
an extent about the individuals within it; so it is important
that we get the right individuals. I have to say that we do extremely
well and I am particularly blessed by my staff. So I have no concerns
on that score. The process that we set in place after the McKinsey
reforms, which gave enormous flexibility and authority to the
Directors of Equipment Capability, is one from which it is extremely
difficult now to resile, I am pleased to say. So, if someone came
in as a Capability Manager and wanted to micro manage those issues,
he or she would find it extremely difficult, and of course the
Capability Managers work within the framework and to the objectives
that are set for them by the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Equipment
Capability). So you would need that individual to also be going
163. Given that background about which you have
just told the Committee, could you tell me a little more about
what you meant by saying that it is much more about the process
than organisation. What do you mean by the word "process"?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Let me give you a few
examples. Even when one looks at the specific projects that are
being undertaken within the areas of the Directors of Equipment
Capability, there are a number of inter-relationships which have
to be taken into account. No project is an island, in any sense.
So, the Directors of Equipment Capability, while focused very
much on their projects, of course still have to relate to other
colleagues around them. A number of the systems which we are introducing
are going to rely crucially upon information superiority, upon
command control and information systems and so on. All of those
linkages have to be taken into account. The first thing is, are
people asking themselves the right a priori questions when
they address their projects and there are a number of those. For
example, one of the first questions that any Director of Equipment
Capability should be asking when considering a project and certainly
one of the first questions he or she should be prepared to answer
is, how does this fit into and contribute to the overall defence
network capability? That is the first issue of process as opposed
to organisation. The second one has to do with more wide-ranging
issues, not just inter-relationships from one Director for Equipment
Capability to another but issues which cut right across all of
them. Those have to be managed at a strategic level by the Capability
Managers and by the Joint Capabilities Board. Each of those Capability
Managers has some specific personal objectives set by me related
to those cross-cutting issues and they have targets that they
have to meet and indicators that we watch to see how well they
are doing. So, there is an issue of process there in drawing the
whole enterprise together. Then there is, going wider still, the
issue of how we inter-relate with people outside the equipment
capability customer because we are the core area for this, but
the equipment capability that we produce has to be used by other
people and of course we have to take very careful account of their
views in all of that and a range of other organisations as well.
So, it is how we relate to outside agencies as well as internally.
164. I understand a great deal more about it
now than I did before. Notwithstanding that, going back to organisation,
do you see that there might be changes made in the organisation
structure and so on that we have just been talking about? In other
words, are some capability areas likely to grow in importance
and others diminish in importance?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) No organisation should
be set in concrete. We always keep it under review and I would
judge it highly likely that in the future we will wish to make
some changes. I see them as evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
The post-McKinsey changes were more a revolutionary change. We
would want to build on the success we have achieved in the wake
of those changes; so they would be evolutionary. In terms of relative
importance, there is no doubt that some capabilities become relatively
more important than others when considering levels of investment.
They become more important perhaps because other areas now have
a satisfactory level of investment and do not need to have quite
so much attention paid to them as was the case previously. They
may change because circumstances change: the strategic environment
changes, the risks change and so on. The obvious example of this
at the moment is information superiority. Information superiority
is fundamental to everything that we do and that is absolutely
our top priority at the moment.
165. You may know that the Committee is having
an investigation into terriorism and everything that flowed from
11 September. Do you think that there is a need for a cell within
your organisation for developing capabilities to counteract that
or anything that may flow from that?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) As you know, the Department
is looking at the whole issue and I would not want to prejudge
what the outcome of that study is going to be. All I would say
is that so far, because of course one cannot wait for full results
to come through, one must be sure that one is covered in the meantime,
I am content that the structures and the processes that we have
are sufficient to deal with that particular issue.
166. So you would take the view that you do
not need a Capability Manager for this American phrase that we
are all now using, "homeland security"?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) I think that is unlikely
although again I would not want to prejudge what is going to come
out in the Department study. I would just say that there is a
danger when people use the term "homeland security"
that one can become too blinkered. Homeland security can never
just be about providing a shield.
167. What does that mean? I need to know what
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) When you talk about
homeland security, people think in terms of reactive defence.
That is never going to be enough against any kind of threat.
168. We are thinking more of somebody specifically
focusing on the work that is going on in the private sector in
other departments of state, so that you are aware of what is happening.
We have seen a copy of a document showing Capability Managers
within the DCDS (EC) organisation, with "Strategic Deployment,
Strike, Information Superiority and Manoeuvre" and, if you
look down the list as to what comprises this, we wonder whether
there should be somebody there, not just to show you are following
what is going on, marked to homeland security, not just for public
relation posts but to be able to focus on what is happening outside
and see where it fits into your equipment programme.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We do that through
process rather than through organisation. We carry out an analysis
of the requirements, our current capabilities and produce a gap
analysis. If the departmental policy is pointing us in a particular
direction with regard to homeland security, then our gap analysis
will show us what needs to be done to meet that particular policy
and of course we would afford it the appropriate priority in equipment
planning. So I think that we are well focused on that. I would
just add that this is much more than just defence capability as
the Committee will undoubtedly be aware. It entails many areas
of state power. I would also say, reverting to what I was talking
about a moment ago, that crucial to this as to everything else
is information superiority.
169. You mentioned a study; was that the one
that the American professor was doing or was it a separate one?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) This is the Department's
look at the events of 11 September and the consequences of it,
the New Chapter work.
170. In terms of equipping the Armed Forces,
how much more assistance do you think is needed to reflect the
post Cold War era? For instance, the Army has invested a large
amount of time and training into forming and keeping Warrior battalions
which are relatively high on punch but very small on bayonet power.
The Infantry is increasingly needed in a substantive role and
these warrior battalions would be very, very pushed to perform
those roles. Where does a balance lie?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) It is a question that
continually occupies us. In general terms, I think we have come
a long way in transforming ourselves from the Cold War. I have
been looking very carefully at our future equipment programme
to see what might be in it that is very much a legacy system of
the Cold War and perhaps of limited utility in the environment
that we foresee facing us in the future and frankly I found very
little that has not already been attended to. If I take your particular
example, the Army is dedicated to introducing a Future Rapid Effect
System in the latter part of this decade that is going to focus
much more upon mobility, speed and precision than upon heaviness
and armoured defence, which was the case up to now. So, they are
completely on board and it remains one of their top priorities.
So, I think we have made enormous progress. It is of course the
case that we have a lot of legacy systems. That is inevitable.
Systems are with us for decades, not just years, and it is only
a relatively few years since the end of the Cold War. Inevitably,
the Forces are having to do the job of today and tomorrow with,
in some cases, equipment that was designed and procured to meet
the needs of the Cold War, but I never cease to be amazed at the
ingenuity of our people and I think they have shown that they
do a fantastic job with all of that. From my perspective, my job
is about ensuring that they are properly equipped in the future
to be able to go out, win and come safely home again in the strategic
environment that will pertain then and I think that we have got
our plans right.
171. I accept much of that. How does your organisation
stay abreast of evolving threats and when do you reach a point
where you say, for the sake of argument, "Things have changed
drastically. We do not need Warriors any more. We have to change
quickly. We have to generate infantry; we have to generate foot
soldiers"? How is that process gone through?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) First of all, my organisation
never says, "We need Warriors" or that we need any particular
type of equipment. My organisation is about capability. So we
need to look at the risks that are going to exist in the future
and at Government policy, marry those two up and see what kind
of equipment capability we are going to need to respond to the
demands that will face us. For example, it is clear that given
the Government policy and the likely future strategic environment,
we need expeditionary forces that focus on speed, precision and
self-protection. It is clear that we need to focus on information
superiority and network centric capability to enable that. So,
we look for a set of capabilities. The equipment solution is something
for the Integrated Project Team within the DPA to come up with.
172. Who decides about the changing of a requirement?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Changing the capability
173. Yes, changing the capability requirement.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We do.
174. Can you briefly describe that process.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We take the departmental
strategic plan and we take the results of a great deal of force
development which is done within the policy area and derives broad
future capability requirements and then we narrow those down into
rather more specific capabilities and, having, if you like, derived
a picture of what we think our capability structure should look
like in the future, we match it against what we have now and what
we currently plan; we conduct our gap analysis in order that we
know where the shortfalls are and indeed in some cases where the
surpluses are and, from that, we derive our own strategic guidance
which is, we need to shift investment from this particular capability
into that particular capability. That is not to say that an area
of capability that requires less attention is unimportant. As
I said earlier, it may just be that we have concluded that we
have done enough for the moment in that particular capability
area and our focus must be elsewhere. So, it is always a question
of prioritisation so that we can achieve the best results within
the resources available.
175. I know that the intelligence role is rather
sensitive but where would the intelligence system, that is military
intelligence and other intelligence, feed into your organisation?
For example, tipping you off that somebody has developed a system
which would negate what we are planning at the moment.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Intelligence in the
widest sense is a key currency in our business. Obviously when
we are looking at potential solutions to a capability requirement,
then we need to narrow down the focus to see precisely what kind
of opposition capabilities we might have to counter and those
are worked through in a process of operational analysis drawing
extensively upon intelligence sources and data.
176. Would there be anybody inside your organisation
who is liaising with defence intelligence?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) There are a number
of people who do that and I have a very close relationship with
them as well.
177. It is not a question of what our adversaries
are developing but what our allies are developing that they can
sell to our potential adversaries, ie Exocets in the 1980s.
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) We do not of course
deal in adversaries any more after the Cold War because of the
very uncertainty to which you refer. We do not have our eye on
any particular nation or set of armed forces or set of capabilities,
but we have to be prepared for a wide variety of potential threats
178. What phrase do you use?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Risk.
Chairman: That is a politically correct phrase
to use. I can still think of a few adversaries.
179. I hate to cast up the words of your predecessor,
but it has not escaped my notice that he did write an interesting
article in this month's RUSI Journal and what he saidand
I will quote it because you obviously do not have this in front
of youwas that, in the Cold War, the key requirement was
to secure capabilities to deter the Soviet threat. Delivering
that equipment to budget and keeping to time was far less important.
Now this imperative has gone. Timeliness is now seen as more important
particularly to tap in rapidly developing civil technologies.
Is that something which resonates with you?
(Air Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup) Yes. I think it is
more than just the change from the Cold War. It think it has to
do with the rate of technological advance as well. During the
Cold War, our primary aim was deterrence and, to an extent, deterrence
was more about what was in the shop window than what was on the
store shelves in the back. Since the Cold War, we have been employed
on military operations extensively and we continue to be so. We
send our young men and women to do difficult and dangerous things
in often unpleasant circumstances and we have to give them the
wherewithal for them to go out and win and come home safely. That
means support as well as the shop window equipment. We cannot
afford to be hollow because we would not succeed. The changing
strategic environment has had a significant impact. Equally, the
pace of technological advance and the sort of technological advance
that is available relatively easily to, as the Chairman would
say, potential adversaries has become quite widespread. The sort
of asymmetric threats that we face are relatively easily available
and we need to be able to respond to those. That presents us with
a particular challenge. I do not know what sort of capabilities
we are going to need in five or ten years' time. I make what I
think is quite a good and well informed estimate of it but I do
not have the perfect crystal ball and I am not going to get everything
right, nobody is. So, there will be some things that crop up to
which we will have to respond at relatively short notice. Therefore,
we need short term agility in terms of delivering equipment capability.
On the other hand, we still invest and will need to continue to
invest in relatively expensive platforms and, given the expense
of those platforms, we will need to have them in service for a
very long time to get a return on our investment. We cannot simply
afford to replace them every five years or so. So, there is a
tension between platforms which remain in service for a very long
time and the need for this shorter term agility. Is this an incompatibility?
No. I would cite the example of Afghanistan where we were delivering
close air support in all weathers in a fashion which we had not
envisaged before using JDAM bombs, that is Joint Direct Attack
Munition bombs, GPS-guided precision bombs, targeted by very small
groups of people on the ground. This capability was being delivered
from a platform called the B-52 which, the last time I checked
the numbers, when it eventually disappears will have been around
for about 80 years. So, there is not, in my view, an incompatibility
with enduring platforms and short-term agility in terms of capability.
We just have to think in those terms. We have to think in terms
of how we can update and upgrade capability quickly and that is
exactly what we are doing at the moment.