The cost of war


I’ve just watched Countdown to Zero, a documentary featuring past world leaders, intelligence analysts, and the general public about Nuclear Weapons. I wondered how much we spent on them. From what I can gather the UK currently spends approximately $4.5 billion per year on it’s Nuclear arsenal. That’s £2.85 billion per year. Can this money be better spent? That’s a saving of (not covering decommissioning costs) +£2.85 billion pa

Assuming a British Soldier has completed training and takes part in a 6 month posting to Afghan they will take home £22,265 in a year. [1] [2] The average public sector worker in the UK gets paid £28,802 per year. Our forces clearly aren’t getting paid enough, and the public doesn’t like going to war. So lets give them an extra 50% pay. That’s approx 189950 service personnel. This would increase the yearly wage bill by -£2.114 billion pa.

Now we’ll need to also stop nuclear proliferation worldwide. Let’s create a specially trained special forces group and train them for containing and defending another country’s nuclear arsenal. Lets use Pakistan as the example because that country destabilising is the real nightmare scenario. Currently Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG) are tasked with, amongst other things, securing nuclear facilities. They are approximately 7000 strong. Let’s assume we’d need a force double that size to take and hold facilities long enough to get nuclear material out prior to destruction of the facilities themselves from the air (there are also 14 nuclear establishments in Pakistan, and 3 commercial nuclear reactors to take care of). We’ll assume a force of 1000 technical experts, giving us a total requirement of 15000 personnel.

Let’s assume that their resources will match the current UK special forces equipment budget. They cost £2million to train, and are paid over £30000 per year. Lets increase their pay again (nuclear weapons aren’t nice afterall) and hire 15000 of them. That’s an additional yearly cost in wages of -£675 million. Lets give them a new Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, some J35C for top cover, and buy some nice american black hawks to get them in and out. A few chinooks to heli in vehicles too for good measure. Four C17s cost £100million to lease each year, so this equipment level should be do-able. Then we’ll fill the carriers with full crew including air element of 1600, at a pay rate of say £37000 per year each, totally an additional -£55.5 million per year.

We’re now at a total difference of +£5.5 million per year. This can go towards yearly equipment upkeep and painting scary animal motifs on vehicles and aircraft. It would also reduce the amount of nuclear weapons in the world and give the UK a massive ability of force protection. We could train for the mission in the Falklands… because… ah because it’s away from prying eyes. Yes that’s a good reason…

Seriously though, why not do this?

[1] Infantry pay http://www.army.mod.uk/join/20097.aspx
[2] Deployment pay http://www.army.mod.uk/structure/22781.aspx