TOTAL SUPPORT FORCE AS A CONCEPT FOR THE FUTURE
Lieutenant Helen Hobson (RN), SO3 Logistics Future Capability, Fleet
Fujitsu Essay Competition – Highly Commended
The Strategic and Security Defence Review prompted a large-scale review of the way that defence does it business1. Widely reported in the media, large cuts in military manpower were implemented; some 5,000 personnel in the Royal Navy alone, a reduction of over 14%. This was compounded by a parallel review of the civil service which was to reduce by 25,000; a 29% decline. Selected military capabilities were leaned in parallel, but the level of manpower reductions were still disproportionately large, making a compelling case for the evolution of the departmental employment model problem2. As such, the vision for the future of Defence Support, proposed by CDM, has been created and champions the concept of the Total Support Force (TSF) whereby industry, reserves and civil servants are integrated into regular structures against readiness assumptions and agile force generation requirements3.
The TSF concept compensates for reductions in uniformed personnel and aims to enable operational capability (OC), through reduced cost and increased efficiency in support of the people component of OC. Full operational capability planned by 2015, TSF intends to draw on the Contractor Support to Operations (CSO) and Contractors on Deployed Operations (CONDO) experience, as part of the Whole Force Concept, to deliver the sustainable manning of a balanced, resilient and fully integrated force structure4.
This essay aims to examine the concept of TSF applied to the maritime environment and the extent to which TSF can enable operational capability. It will argue that TSF progression is relatively mature in the maritime domain and is already delivering operational assurance to maritime Commanders; there is a long-standing assumption, however, that further TSF development must ‘stop at the gangway5’ whereby the routine deployment of contractors in seagoing vessels is not supported. This essay challenges this concept, offering meaningful opportunities for further TSF development in the deployed maritime support space. If these principles and opportunities are understood and exploited, TSF can be a key enabler of operational capability in the future.
TSF Compliance in the Maritime Environment
The Maritime Change Programme
Over the past 5 years, elements of support services in the maritime support environment have adopted TSF-natured structures. All 3 UK Naval Bases are now defence owned but contractor operated, managed through Defence Equipment and Systems (DE&S). The maritime environment has aimed to exploit opportunities created in the Defence Industrial Strategy6 through increased co-operation with industry at the Firm Base7. The aim of such change programmes is to create centres of specialisation in upkeep and engineering, to incentivise industry to improve performance and reduce costs, to optimise flexibility and capacity and to create a sufficient skills base / suitably qualified and equipped personnel (SQEP) to satisfy the intelligent customer role8. HMNB Portsmouth, as an example in action, will become the single home to the Type 45 Destroyers, Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers (QEC) and Type 26 Frigate9. Although these change programmes are relatively immature, elements of success are already coming to fruition. Under the Surface Ship Support Programme, through which a Hunt Class Output Management (COM) organisation has been established to manage the Hunt Class Availability Contract, the alliance of BAE Systems and her sub-contractors, Defence and Civil Service are working to improve availability whilst reducing cost. The Hunt COM has been successful in driving up availability (measured through ‘Available Force Element Days’ (AFED) scores) whilst also reducing costs. The COM contract requires BAE Systems to achieve these availability and c