Front Line First

Front Line First: The Defence Cost Study was a UK programme of defence cuts announced on 14 July 1994 by then Defence Secretary Malcolm Rifkind. Front Line First was announced four years after Options for Change, which was a military draw-down as a result of the end of the Cold War, often described as the "peace dividend". Critics such as the Labour defence spokesman Donald Anderson argued that the cuts were driven by the Treasury,[1] however Rifkind argued that the front line of the armed forces was not affected and it was support staff and assets which were being cut; Rifkind stated that one of the major conclusion of the study was that the "Ministry of Defence and other headquarters at all levels are too large, too top heavy and too bureaucratic."[2]

Front Line First: The Defence Cost Study
AuthorMinistry of Defence
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherHer Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO)
Publication date
13 October 1994

Main changes

  • Closure of Rosyth naval base, retained as a Royal Naval Support Establishment.
  • Reduction of MOD civil servants by 7% (7,100)
  • Reduction of armed forces personnel by 5% (11,600)
  • These staff reductions included "more than 20 senior military and civilian jobs - that is Major-General level and above."[2]
  • Closure of 17 depots.
  • Closure of 2 of the 3 military hospitals. Military wings to be set up at NHS hospitals.
  • Army, Navy and Air Force headquarters to be merged into a Joint HQ at Northwood.
  • Base closures:

New equipment orders

See also


  1. Mason, Trevor (1994-07-14). "Defence cuts will not weaken fighting strength - Rifkind". Parliamentary News. The Press Association Ltd.
  2. "Front Line First". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 1994-07-14. col. 1169–1176.
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