11 February 2008 | Paul Snell
The UK's operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have assisted the merger of the country's two military buying organisations.
General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue, chief of defence materiel, told an MPs committee that supporting troops in current campaigns had concentrated the merger of the Defence Procurement Agency and the Defence Logistics Organisation.
"We were two different organisations and we are steadily coming together," he said. "The fact we are supporting those two campaigns has brought us together quicker than it might otherwise have done. There is an imperative to support current operations, which I believe has brought us closer together"
He added that since the merger in April 2007 progress had been "remarkably good" with a focus on blending the two different working cultures.
He also said there was a focus to improve the skills of staff at the new agency, Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S). "We have certainly taken a big bite into upskilling our people. We have sorted out the skills we need and upskilled those people who need it because of gaps in professionalism in the organisation," he said.
DE&S is reducing staff numbers from 29,000 to 20,000 by 2012, but O'Donoghue said short-term staff would not be brought in to fill gaps in numbers. "I believe that when in some areas we do buy in expertise it is not because of numerical holes but holes in professional expertise," he said. "While the process of upskilling is going on so we can get our own people up to the required level of professional skill we need to buy in some expertise."