Ministry Of Defence Next To Be Privatised

David Cameron's mission to privatise all that we once owned continues with Bernard Gray's hushed plan to privatise the MoD.

There will not be many of us unable to see that the handing over our national defence to corparations with foreign interests is national suicide. 

That is unless you are Bernard Gray, the Chief of Defence Materiel at the Defence Equipment and Support branch of the Ministry.

Whilst acting as an advisor to the Ministry of Defence in 2009, Gray compiled a review of  defence acquisition, in which he strongly recommended the privatisation of the Defence Equipment and Support Branch, by creating what is termed a Go-Co partnership.

Go-Co entities are typically government facilities run by the private sector, such as is used in the Atomic Weapons Establishment which includes the involvement of such infamous companies as Lockheed Martin and Serco, and allows the contractor access to sensitive military information.

Gray was special advisor to the Secretary of State for Defence between 1997 and 1999, during which time he submitted an earlier report – the Strategic Defensive Review - which highlighted the need to 'modernise' the forces.

But it was his late 2009 report to Parliament recommending privatisation of the DE&S branch which subsequently led to his appointment in December 2010 as Chief of Defence Materiel.

In 2011 the Ministry of Defence announced that Bernard Gray would be handling the finance department of the branch; it will surprise few of you to know that Mr Gray has a history of working in the banking sector for a number of years, with ties to the Bankers Trust and Chase Manhatten.

Is it a coincidence that a man who has experience working for such banks, who has been proposing privatisation of the DE&S for some time now, is suddenly in charge of the division with the newly authorised responsibility of handling accounts?

His ambition does not appear to end with the DE&S. Following a new submission, Gray is understood to have identified another three options for the privatisation of the Abbey Wood facility in Filton, Bristol, the largest MoD centre in the country which employes around 10,000 people.

This would include establishing an "independent body" to run the £14Bn procurement programme which would be run by outside contractors with the ability to make purchasing decisions without ministerial approval, and run as a semi private operation. Which parts of the service will be private will be unclear, but to imagine a defence programme that is privatised, and certainly one dealing in finance, which could then be kept in secret from any sort of public scrutiny should be unthinkable.

Companies involved in the talks are the American based companies Bechtel and Fluor, the Swiss Cooperative KPMG, and British companies BAE Systems, who own Filton Airfield and already a prominent supplier to MoD – so no conflit of interest there – Deloitte, and, of course, Serco.

Peter Luff, the Minister of Defence Equipment Support and Technology, told a BBC radio 4 documentary in December 2011 in regards to the shake up:

We will be as radical as we need to be to achieve the changes we need to improve the performance of the organisation, and I think that will involve a greater involvement with the private sector in some way.

Privatising the Ministry of Defence is certainly radical, some might say stupid, others completely crazy. When a private company takes control of the Ministry, our defence will be purely a matter of profit with our forces being used as agents working in the interests of a foreign corporation at worst, or a for profit organisation at best; none of which will be in the interest of peace or defence.