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England Continues Plan To Privatize Military Training

The United Kingdom's military is much smaller then the United States and as a force multiplier they have moved to maximize the privatization of support functions. They already have spun off their test organizations and facilities into QinetiQ as well as selling their ammunition plants to BAE. One of their more ambitious programs is to privatize all types of training from flight to maintenance to weapon systems.

QintetiQ formed a consortium of various companies to handle this task. This new company is called Metrix and was awarded a contract worth up to $20 billion dollars to handle the task. Part of the contract was to rehabilitate and run the former military facilities and Metrix was going to borrow money to do this and slowly be paid back by the U.K. government. Six months ago due to the cost of borrowing and the world's financial issues there was talk of either putting the contract on hold or canceling it.

Despite the cost and the issues with the contract structure the English military decided to proceed with the contract. The government announced that as part of the overall plan Metrix will received a $50 million contract to start converting training materials into a computer based learning systems. The decision to continue the whole contract has still not been made but since this part must begin several months in advance of the transfer it was decided to award it now.

By maximizing the investment in computer based tools and techniques it is hoped that there will be substantial cost savings over the long run. Metrix is turning to Raytheon to do most of the conversion. As part of this process there should be an effort to combine and universalize as much of the material as possible in order to generate more cost savings. A big part of this effort will involve distance learning to further save on the cost of travel and facilities.

Certainly most military forces use contractor provided training for specialized equipment and processes but the majority still rely on a military system of schools and instruction to do most of their training. Individual companies may get a contract to support specific schools as well or to keep training devices operational but no one has attempted to do what the U.K. is trying to do with a complete privatization of the core training.

If it is successful and saves money that may be invested in forces and equipment it may be that other nations follow suit. Interestingly the U.S. under the Obama Administration is probably moving in the opposite direction with less reliance on contractors and more investment in the government work force. Of course the U.S. has a great deal more money available for their military so it is not as critical as in the U.K. although the U.S. does tie up a great deal of manpower in acquisition, management and training that might be freed up for other uses.