The Telegraph

SIR – It is good that Philip Hammond has spoken out on preserving the current level of defence spending (report, March 2).
This does not mean that defence spending could not achieve better value for money. One area that promises improvements without reducing operational capability is that of “harmony” – the amount of time sailors, soldiers and airmen are not available for operations — an inverse productivity measure, if you will.
The Armed Forces Pay Review board has demonstrated that each service has different harmony levels. On the surface this is a reasonable decision, as each service has a different role.
However, the Royal Navy has its own army (the Royal Marines) and its own air force (the Fleet Air Arm) and collectively they operate with less “harmony time” and thus a higher operational availability than the other two services.
By examining a common three-year period the difference in productivity becomes clear. Royal Marines are available for operations for 660 days, the Army 498. Fleet Air Arm personnel are available for 660 days, the RAF only 420.
If the Army and RAF had the same harmony time as the Royal Navy and its constituents, Army personnel levels could be reduced by up to 24 per cent and the RAF up to 36 per cent without reducing operational availability – a significant saving, allowing scarce money to be used elsewhere in defence.
Dr Duncan Redford
University of Portsmouth

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