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  • New U.K. Defense Secretary: Good or Bad News for U.K. Defense?
    Posted by Robert Wall 1:56 PM on Oct 17, 2011

    The scandal-driven departure of Liam Fox as the U.K.'s defense secretary may have been all-but inevitable when it finally occurred late last week, but that will not make it any easier to take over the role for Philip Hammond, the new U.K. SecDef.

    Hammond transfers from having run the Transport Department, where he has done little to impress when it comes to bold decision making, formulating an aviation policy, or devising an industrial policy. The latter, in particular, could be of concern to the U.K. defense and aerospace industry, as it waits for the Ministry of Defense to issue its industrial policy (the document was due before year-end prior to Fox's departure).

    Hammond brings with him what could be political advantage over Fox. His predecessor was not particularly close to Prime Minister David Cameron, while Hammond is. The question is, will that be an asset or a drawback? Fox, at times, was willing to do battle with the Treasury to avoid MOD suffering even larger budget cuts than those already imposed. Whether Hammond will feel inclined to do the same or whether his loyalty resides entirely with the PM  remains to be seen. The test case will likely be the PR12 planning round unfolding through April, where further budget cuts may loom.

    Fox, for all his failings in keeping his private friendship and professional duties separated, was heavily invested in the far- reaching reform effort being put in place now within the MOD. Whether Hammond shares that conviction also is still undetermined.

    MOD may be best served if Hammond tries to deviate as little as possible from what Fox has put in motion —  letting the Peter Levene reform effort set in and letting Bernard Grey fix defense materiel management. But whether he will feel capable of doing so remains to be seen.

    Tags: ar99, UK

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