Ambiguity and Deterrence: British Nuclear Strategy, 1945-1964

By John Baylis | Go to book overview

5 The Radical Review and Inter-service
Rivalries 1953-1954

The real underlying difficulty, of course, is shortage of money. The Chancellor, as ever, cannot provide what each of the services considers is necessary and the more peaceful the outlook becomes the less money are the services likely to have to meet what they consider their minimum requirements. It follows then that with the best will in the world there must be tremendous competition between the services for what money is available, and naturally inside each service the problem of what is really essential takes on the local colour. (Sir Rhoderick McGrigor, 18 June 1953)

APART from clarifying the nature of British global strategy, the 1952 Paper had two main purposes. One was to make a case to the United States and to the NATO alliance that existing strategy was misguided and needed to be reformed. The other was to respond to the pressures from the new government under Winston Churchill to scale down the £4,700 million rearmament programme introduced by the Attlee government. In both cases, however, the Chiefs of Staff were to run into immediate difficulties. In the United States the Global Strategy Paper was criticized on the grounds that it was dictated more by economic than by strategic considerations. Domestically, despite the rhetoric which emphasized sizeable cuts in defence capabilities, it was soon realized that the contradictions at the heart of the Paper mitigated against the kind of economic savings that the government considered necessary. As a result, it was not long before a new, more radical, review was initiated by the government to secure the kinds of cuts in defence spending it felt were required. This led, in turn, to a more overt struggle over resources between the Chiefs of Staff

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