Proposals Would Shrink British Military to Size Medium

More leaks from Britain’s ongoing defense review, part of a dramatic shrinking of the public sector by the new Conservative-led coalition government. The Daily Telegraph got hold of “detailed proposals” that include slashing the RAF’s fighter fleet to fewer than 200 planes, cutting two nuclear submarines, three amphibious ships and an armored brigade. Total military personnel losses under the government’s new austerity plan are put at 16,000.

The RAF would lose all of its 120 GR4 Tornados and the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet would drop from 160 t0 107 planesas the Telegraph put it, the RAF would shrink to levels not seen since World War I. It’s really hard to see how the UK goes ahead with its planned buy of 138 Joint Strike Fighters amid such deep cuts.

The Army could be reduced by as much as 40 percent. The paper said the Royal Marines will be taken from the Navy and grouped with the Army’s remaining two parachute battalions into a “super elite” unit. One of two Army armored brigades still based in Germany is expected to be dropped from the rolls along with its collection of Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior armored personnel carriers.

The paper writes:

“If implemented, the cuts will mean that Britain will almost certainly depart the world stage as a major military power and become what military chiefs call a “medium-scale player.”

Britain’s government won’t announce the depth of the actual cuts until October; the information leaking out now is about the various proposals being debated. The leaks may serve their intended purpose and mobilize various constituencies to try and stop some of the cuts; although, the British government appears to be pretty intent on their announced goal of cutting military spending by 20 percent over the next four years.

— Greg Grant

  • JEFF

    Well it seems the sun has set on the British Emprie. Its taken a while but here it is.

    • Unfortunately. This is a very melancholy situation.

  • William C.

    That happened a long time ago Jeff. This is just salt in the wound to pay for unsustainable social programs and entitlements. The British military will go from a key ally, to one of those countries who sends 50 troops to a NATO operation and calls it a day.

    Didn’t they learn anything during the 1930s?

    • Tallyrand Corp

      How come you never call military spending unsustainable? Social spending actually creates sustainability through job training, reduction in chronic health ailments, better education, oversight to insure clean water, unadulterated food, maintaining infrastructure, etc. Besides the jobs affiliated with defense spending, these funds are mostly lost on the most wasteful enterprise known to man: war. America spends more on defense than most of the rest of the planet combined, and still I hear complaints about about how much goes to non-defense needs. You do realize the country has concerns other than war, right? That goes especially for England with its reduced economic base. Grow up, no one is taking us over so stop with the apocalyptic rhetoric.

      • Israeli

        The differences is that defense is the main item the American government is mandated to provide, social services are not mandated by the constitution.

        • Tallyrand Corp

          And your point? Are you saying social services and economic development aren’t legitimate areas for federal investment? Are you saying the Congressional spending on non-defense related budget items is somehow un-Constitutional? Isn’t the long term connection between energy policy/research and national defense blatantly obvious? Or how education, health care, and infrastructure spending all correlate to a stronger, more viable, inventive, and robust populace–is that not a national concern? No one measures quality of life by the size of one’s armed forces.

          • STemplar

            Yes but nations didn’t get to have or keep free progressive governments without the military either.

          • Tallyrand Corp

            Again with the scare tactics; have fun tearing apart your own silly strawman. Who is advocating living “without the military?” This discussion is about how much to spend and where. What forces do you see imperiling British or American sovereignty in the foreseeable future? Maybe you should just let the adults talk for a while.

          • William C.

            As the military is weakened you will begin to see such forces that can threaten our sovereignty and goals. Only when we have such a strong defense that people don’t see potential threats.

          • Tallyrand Corp

            Right, the US spends 46.5% of total world defense spending, next is China which accounts for 6.6%, then France at 4.2%, the UK at 3.8%, then Russia with 3.5%. So where do you see this fatal weakness arising from? It’s not enough to claim less spending makes us less safe when the scales are so obviously tipped our way–where is the legitimate threat?

          • Joe Shmoe

            Ahhh… but the U.S. only spends a small portion of its budget on defense spending, which is the only constitutionally mandated service the government has to provide. Compare that with other social services that are paid for with tax money that the government does not have to provide, are you seeing the picture?

            Here is a quick breakdown for you:

            Social Security – $715 billion
            Medicare – $451 billion
            Medicaid – $275 billion

            All other mandatory programs – $571 billion. These programs include Food Stamps, Unemployment Compensation, Child Nutrition, Child Tax Credits, Supplemental Security for the blind and disabled, Student Loans, and Retirement / Disability programs for Civil Servants, the Coast Guard and the Military.

            So how can you be complaining that the U.S. spends too much on the military when it is the social programs that are the biggest cash cows by far.

          • Blight

            We spend more than most of the rest of the planet on the military. Is this not enough? If all social spending was banned by military generalissimos, what would we buy with the extra money? Twelve more carriers?

          • William C.

            And how much more does China get for each $ with their cheaper work-force? How much of our defense spending is actually going to new equipment and training? The legitimate threats will emerge when we are weak, that is my point.

          • STemplar

            I don’t think I insulted you sir and the last time I checked that hardly qualified as adult behavior.

          • Tallyrand Corp

            Your illogical, misleading responses are an insult to reason. No one is discussing not funding the military at all, yet that’s all you seem to talk about. Do you have anything germane to add or merely more of the same strawman addled scare tactics?

          • STemplar

            20% cuts to the British military would essentially gut the UKs expeditionary capacity, essentially making anything they do spend more about pride than real power projection. They along with the US and France are the only nations that have true expeditionary capacity. These cuts would more or less remove them from the stage and put them on the level of the rest of NATO. We play very politically correct when we speak about our NATO allies, but the bulk simply do not spend what is needed to be truly able to influence issues beyond their own border. The cuts that are being bandied about in this report put a stake through the heart of the UK’s MOD and relegate them to a 3rd rate power.

            Essentially what l am saying is that with cuts like that, the UK will join the rest of the decadent Europeans in sitting back looking down their snobbish noses at American policy, while simultaneously basking in the fruits of a world economy supported by US military might.

          • Tallyrand Corp

            Thank you for addressing the issue at hand. Our allies have been riding on our coattails militarily since WWII; you can’t relish the benefits of being a superpower without also taking on the burdens that come with, including subsidizing the Japans, Israels, South Koreas, Taiwans, etc that reside in your sphere of influence, to use the old terminology.

            The day America stops playing world police and laying out 47% of world defense dollars, such a bargain would be null and void, and we would see our allies forces to fend for themselves, or at least shoulder more of the burden. England is only doing what we make possible with our ridiculous expenditures…can you really blame them? It seems to me the US is the one with the power to stop this from happening. Fiscally, we really don’t have much of a choice anymore, unless you feel comfortable putting your children into a debtors prison of historical magnitude.

          • Bob

            Most of your so called social spending is the responsibility of the individual states, should they choose, NOT the federal government. For example, nowhere in the Constitution does it call for spending on education, that is a state and local responsibility.

          • Tallyrand Corp

            It’s not “so-called” social spending, it’s social spending. Just because you disagree with it doesn’t change its very definition.

            Are you really saying the Department of Education is unconstitutional? It also says Congress has the power to declare war…remember that old chestnut? The courts, the Congress, and the Executive have broadly interpreted the Constitution for two hundred years, I’m sure we’ll disagree on many of those decisions. My point is that defense spending must be rationalized in this era of economic despair, along with all government spending.

          • Thunder350

            Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. – Thomas Jefferson

            Education is by far the most important thing a country can do, it trumps everything including defense. (Defense is 3rd on my list, infrastructure is 2nd).

          • STemplar

            Disagree, so did the founding fathers which is why common defense and blessings of liberty are in the preamble.

          • Crain

            So is promote the general welfare, which is interpreted as social programs, regulations on health and welfare, and food and drug standards

          • Thunder350

            I swear Thomas Jefferson was a founding father, perhaps one of, if not the most important one..

          • JEFF

            The accept interpretation of one of the purpose of the 10th amendment was to protect States rights to dictate education practices from the Federal government.

          • Bob

            Todays days, education is not education, it is indoctrination and brainwashing. PC, diversity, eco justice etc., are being taught instead of history, constitution and economics. Education at both K-12 and graduate level has been taken over by the left, thanks to the federal government.

          • William C.

            It is one thing for the government to invest in infrastructure and research and development. Yet what right do they have mandating a citizen buy health insurance or neglecting defense for the sake of some over-reaching social program? The government has no duty to ensure everybody has the same quality of life.

            And despite these government investments you refer to, it seems like our population has only gotten more foolish, morally backwards, and intellecutally off-track in recent years. The real problems of our culture is not something the government can address, and too often the government worsens said problems.

          • Blight

            VA isn’t mandated by the Constitution either. Medicare and SS will have to go too, wont they? The Federal Reserve and the SEC too….evil liberal program the Federal Reserve is.

            Narrowly saying all nonmilitary spending not line item in the Constitution is bunk is a very steep slope that leads to a very interesting place…

          • Tallyrand Corp

            Where is defense being neglected? Will you be satisfied if the US spends 75% of the world’s defense expenditures? 85% What threat are you trying to counter, exactly?

            I remember my grandfather used to complain about how bad things have gotten, and his grandfather probably said the same. It’s a fallacy, like all nostalgic thinking of some lost magical time. If you consider Jim Crow or not letting women vote morally defensible, you probably don’t feel comfortable with modern America. I think we’ve come a long way in many areas and have a long way to go yet. Simplistic yearning for the past is plain silly, IMO.

          • William C.

            Tallyrand, what you fail to understand is that it is not about some pointless % of global expenditures, it is about what that money is being used on. Only a small portion of defense spending goes to procurement, much of it goes to simply maintaining the force, and another part goes to veteran benefits, military aid to foreign countries, and etc.

            What our requirements are must come first. We once had 15 CBGs and an almost 600 ship Navy including the old Iowa class battleships which had their own strike groups. The Soviet Union may be gone but is it wise to maintain 11 CBGs and a 300+ ship Navy? The USAF is in a bad position at the moment and it’s aircraft needs modernization. This means more F-22s and all sorts of other things that gets people up in arms. The Army and Marine Corp don’t need to grow, but they do need to start introducing new vehicles and equipment to replace old 70s/80s technology. Requrements, not money spent is what we must look at.

      • John

        Could never have said it better myself. Our country ( and most other developed countries) are in dire economic situation brought about by nothing more than unregulated Wall Street greed.
        The REAL threat is China’s cyber advances and economic grip on our debt brought about by unfettered bad checks written by Congress.
        The economy and our debt is the real threat not diminishing military spending.

      • William C.

        Because for the United States at least this level of baseline defense spending (excluding additional funds for trying to solve all of Iraq and Afghanistan’s problems) is easily sustainable. Even just 25 years ago we sustained more than this and we weren’t involved in any ways. Yet defense spending is always considered “unsustainable” while entitlement spending continues to soar, and we have wasted countless billions on a poorly planned and executed stimulus package.

        Defense spending also creates jobs. We have numerous companies in my state who work on jet engines, submarine components, and computer systems for the government and military. These people are just at as much risk as losing their jobs as those in these Wall Street businesses and banks getting bailed out.

      • Oblat

        >How come you never call military spending unsustainable?

        Because Bill works for a defense contractor. The rage is at the thought of his pension being cut.

        • William C.

          At least I have a job Oblat and it isn’t as easy as you would claim it to be.

          Judging from your insults and jealousy your on a one-man crusade to destroy the defense industry good luck with that troll.

      • Alex

        And the US GDP is more than most of the rest of the planet combined. The U.S. spends 4% of it’s GDP on the military…a small fraction. Entitlement programs take up 8.7% of our GDP and are projected to be 18% by 2020. Furthermore, defense spending is a known, fixed cost whereas entitlement programs have a tendency to balloon out of control and end up leaving us with trillions of dollars of liabilities down the road. The US defense budget will not double in relative size over the next 10 years, that’s a guarantee..but thanks to out of control welfare spending, we can’t guarantee that won’t happen for entitlement programs. Not only that, but our military strength and ability to project power all over the world is integral to our economy because it allows us to influence foreign policy anywhere, any time. The jealous European socialists might not like that, but it’s a nice thing to be able to do when you are looking out for numero uno. The United Kingdom is a joke now with a failing health care system (anyone with a serious problem comes to the U.S. for care), an unproductive economy, and a military that won’t even be able to defend it’s own borders without the help of NATO (read: the United States).

        My cousin is finishing his PhD at Bristol University in England in a computer science/software engineering related field. He is a dual English/Greek citizen (not US) and admits that the job prospects for engineers in England are terrible. They don’t get paid enough to save money or have any purchasing power to live a lifestyle of your choice. Some good all that entitlement spending has done them..all it does is allow it’s citizens to live a mediocre life while on the governments teet, whereas in America anyone with enough drive can live a life with great economic freedom.

        I ******* love this country. **** the haters.

  • John Moore

    Better to get your costs in order while there is relative peace in your area on the globe.

    • William C.

      It can take many years to rebuild this sort of lost capability.

      • Tallyrand Corp

        It’s a pittance compared to losing the lead in say, green energy research and production techniques, or cheap desalination, or any other of dozens of areas of economic development. What long-term benefit does a marginal increase in manpower grant England compared to what it could gain from wise investment of the same funds? If you haven’t noticed, the world has changed since the Cold War…the opportunity cost of military spending frequently outweighs the direct gains of more hard power. Look how much hard power America has exerted in Iraq and Afghanistan…do you really think those hundreds of billions have been well spent?

        • Brian

          That depends entirely on what happens in the future. Investments in robotic limb replacement, better communications systems, autonomous vehicles, and other technologies developed purely for the military may have significant benefits for the civilian sector in years to come. After all, satellite communications, the laser, the microwave oven, radar, all these things were developed for military use initially. We don’t know how our current projects will pay off, because we don’t have a crystal ball.

          There’s also the benefits we gain from using that hard power. The actual value of that is nearly impossible to determine. What are the benefits to having a friendly government in power in Iraq? That depends entirely upon what happens in the future. War with Iran? Peak oil?

          There’s no way to accurately predict the future value of any of these investments, military or social.

          • Tallyrand Corp

            I agree, but you overstate your case by downplaying non-defense related innovation. The fact that military R&D has acted as an economic force multiplier doesn’t automatically make it a good buy–what’s the typical rate of on-budget, on-time contract fulfillment for a military program? There are many ways to fund public R&D outside the flawed, wasteful, and corrupt procurement system.

            As for hard power, I never said it was useless, just that it is wasteful. A friendly government in Iraq that was installed militarily at a cost of over a trillion dollars and thousands of American lives is too much to pay. If the goal was energy security, those funds could have funded the greatest research program on renewable energy in history.

          • Brian

            The thing is, there’s no accurate way to measure any of this. That’s why supporters of both sides can make their arguments, with no one ever agreeing on what dividends should count for how much. Do all the developments of Belll Labs, like the transistor, and eventually, the microchip, count as derivatives from defense funding? The internet? Whichever side you take, people won’t agree.

            I’m not some nutjob who hates social spending. I like public schools and want to see them well-funded and successful. I don’t have a problem with some degree of public health care (though I think Obamacare is badly planned and a huge waste of time and resources). But I think we have grown accustomed to having the world’s most powerful military, so much so that we often take the world today as if this were its natural state. It is not. There are a lot of problems, a lot of issues we never have to face, simply because of the massive amount of hard power that we wield.

        • STemplar

          So if we all turn inwards and only spend on self serving entitlement programs what happens if a regional conflict breaks out in the Persian Gulf? If say an embolden Iran sees European and hypothetically we’ll say the US, turning a blind eye to the international stage? That conflict breaks out and the flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf in interrupted. What happens to the world economy?

          • Tallyrand Corp

            You seem incapable of responding to what is written. Where does anyone say we should spend nothing on defense? You should go play with your strawmen in the backyard, they aren’t very helpful or informative in a debate about spending priorities.

          • STemplar

            Oh and incidentally TC there is nothing strawman in my previous post, you just don’t seem to get the point. A strong military guarantees things like oil flowing from the Gulf interrupted, or freedom of navigation of the seas. They are very much provided by a large American military machine. The UK reports suggests they are willing to sit back with the rest of the herd in western Europe and reap the benefits of American military dominance both in terms of the stability provided to world trade and the savings at home for themselves. Pretty pathetic in my opinion.

          • Tallyrand Corp

            No, you never even wrote the words “strong military,” you wrote “if we… only spend on self serving entitlement programs.” Which no one was suggesting, which makes it your strawman. Had you claimed we only needed a strong military I would have readily agreed, and then pointed out that relative to our enemies, we could attain an incredibly strong military with a fraction of current levels of spending. Don’t try to revise, it’s all there in black and white.

    • Blight

      There’s a distinction between military r and d and having more tanks than enemies to fight them, or a military disproportionate to the task at hand.

  • Wild Bill

    You guys down in the Falklands you might want to start learning Spanish……

    • zilwiki

      Mat not be joke, Wild Bill. In 1982 the Brits announced defence cuts including selling a carrier to Australia. next thing you know Argentina invaded the Falklands. After these cuts, they may not be able to repeat that if the Argies invade again.

  • Drake1

    I read somewhere that it’s common in Britain to put out feelers like this to gauge public reaction. Cuts are coming across the board over there for social and welfare spending. It will be interesting to see how much they get on one side versus the other when government workers inevitably go on strike.

    • Wildcard

      People knew what the Conservatives stood for, they voted for cuts, and cuts they shall receive.

  • Byron Skinner

    Good Morning Folks,

    I can’t argue much in what Tallyrand Corp. (I like the name) is saying. The times have changed for the UK and the EU. Historically for the UK security issues have come from the European Continent, especially since Crimean War (1854-56) in the mid 19th. Century. The countries of the EU have takes a definite turn away from militarism, how long will it last, who knows, but it would seem that the K doesn’t want to be the spark to reignite those latent European interests. I know everybody is going to say what about the Falklands in 1982?

    Well what about the Falkland? I would think that today a quite different response would be made by the UK towards Argentina’s actions. The odd couple of Ronnie and Margaret, have fallen into the abyss of the 20th. Century, and sanity is emerging. This daffy duet is best left to the history books and relegated as just a speed bump to post WW II recovery.

    Byron Skinner

  • Ross

    apparently Tallyrand Corp does not appreciate just how much of the domestic technology and industry development is generated by the defence sector.

    major industry capabilities and skills have already been lost under labour, shipbuilding was on the verge of utter collapse..

    now we’re going to utterly destroy all three arms and their remaining support, along with the tens of thousands of jobs that go with them.

    This cannot….just cannot happen. the UK armed forces were cut beyond the bone under labour, there is no conceivable way they can justify cutting to the extent outlined above. I seriously hope this is one horrendous joke.

    • Drake1

      This is all rumor and conjecture at this point.

    • Vitally important point. A majority of the technologies that we enjoy today all derived from military research at one point or another. Also, defense spending is a primary effect of government multiplier effect and industrial employment.

      I’m really curious what everyone thinks is stabilizing the U.S.’ credit rating right now, if not the military. The primary factor is the foundations for a unrivaled economy, and the rest is the capability to keep that economy safe and functional. Like it or not, the defense sector is a major part of the overall Western economy now.

      • Scathsealgaire

        Oil revenue. All oil is traded in US dollars.

      • Tallyrand Corp

        Please, I see your assertion, but no proof. “A majority” of the technologies in use today were derived from military research? Our agricultural tech is military based? The software used to regulate the stock market? Copper wire telephony? Road construction techniques? Sorry if I’d rather not take your word for it, can you provide some sources for such a broad claim?

        Second, I already acknowledged the contribution of military spending in this regard, but why don’t you acknowledge that not spending on specifically military purposes doesn’t mean the end of governmentally supported R&D?

        • Alex D.

          Entitlement spending uses up far more of the GDP than defense spending, and entitlement spending growth will lead it ot be an order of magnitude more than defense spending. The problem is that when times are tough, defense gets cut but not entitlements. Why is defense the first thing to be attacked, when the waste and fraud that threatens our economy the most is not in defense spending but in entitlement spending? The answer is politics. Defense spending does not threaten our economy, but it is easy to villainize. Politicians don’t get elected cutting/reforming welfare, social security, and medicade and medicare, even when they threaten to bankrupt our economy in 20 or 30 years. Tell me, what impact will defense spending have when it is 4% of our GDP and social security, medicare and medicaid are 20% of our GDP in 10 years? It’s a drop in the bucket..and cutting the defense budget 10%, or 20%, won’t do a damn thing except make it more difficult for us to protect our interests over seas and influence foreign policy to our benefit.

        • General Computer Technologies – partially funded through military spending.

          The Internet – started in parallel by universities and the Air Force as ARPANET as a way to link missile bases non-linearly.

          The Microchip – Largely driven by missile programs during the Cold War.

          Radar – One of the major products of World War II military R&D.

          Global Positioning – U.S. funded and developed for military application. Notice that many regional blocs are just establishing their own constellations today.

          Robotics – Tremendous investment by militaries to this day.

          Lasers – Ditto – and for more than just weapons programs.

          Encryption & Data Security – Do I really need to explain this one?

          Nanotechnology – Google the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies.

          Face it – global militaries have been driving technological innovation for years. In the areas they don’t lead, they invest heavily. I also never claimed that reduced military R&D would lead to a total cut in government research – I said that it was a practical, sustainable way to drive innovation, and that military procurement was a rational way to maintain multiplier effect while fulfilling a necessary service.

          Is it hard to breath with your head that deep in the sand?

    • Tallyrand Corp

      You could help my appreciation by furnishing some proof of your claims. “Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness” and all that…

      • STemplar

        Computers were developed to aim artillery better, pretty much encompasses the issue of software l would think. Interstates were funded a built by Eisenhower as he marveled at the autobahn and the ability to move troops around which is also one of the principal reasons Rome developed good road building techniques.

  • Blight

    Voters will no longer vote for a respectable military machine. Bread and circuses please…?

  • Oblat

    >just how much of the domestic technology and industry development is generated by the defence sector.

    This is just a joke told to the tech rubes. The exact opposite is true. A $ spent in the defense industries is several times less effective than that spent directly on R&D. Every year we see more being invested in R&D by Americas competitors while the US with the largest expenditure in the military is falling behind them in field after field.

    It’s ironic that Americans don’t get that they are in a global competition now and that they cant just coast along on the fat the way they have over the last 100 years. They still have the mentality that they are rich enough not to bother. This is of course the same malady that wiped out the British empire.

  • A.Lentz

    it’s sad to see such a magnificent military force being degraded like that, i fear so much of those vital skills and force flexibility will be lost and only be returned in a dire moment of need when it will be too late. i can just see it being like Australia in 1939 having to call on old men and boys when the you know what hits the fan.

    @ John Moore, you might have a point, it might be the only way they can save the country from going under and then not being able to deploy any troops.

    @ Drake1, that’s a more than plausible reason to leak this kind of information. good call

    However I would just like to put this out there to any currently serving members of HM forces, if you are looking to stay in the forces (and this could apply to any US servicemen too) the Australian Defense Force is expanding over the next 10 years (very rapidly in the next four) the urgent need for skilled submariners, with two Landing Helicopter Docks, a massive new fleet of up too 100 F-35’s (we’ll see), the return of 4RAR much sooner then expected and the expansion of its existing forces there are sure to be opportunities for personnel with the right mix of skills. With the resources boom in Australia taking so many of the Australian Defense service, Members of the UK or US forces should consider themselves free agents and go to where they will be appreciated.

  • DualityOfMan

    Their defense budget is only 2.5% of GDP which is almost half of ours. It’s not like they are overspending as it is.

  • William C.

    Anyway, that has got to be a record number of responses to a comment up there.

  • Europe’s defense posture will change quickly once China grabs an island chain, or Russia invades another fragmentistan for the heck of it.

    In all seriousness, though, this move would essentially cement asymmetric threats like terrorism and nearby (like, European) insurgencies as the only threats capable of being handled by the U.K. Please don’t do it. :(

  • Jay

    SLt, why not cut social services to sustainable levels? Or at least stop letting massive numbers of foreigners settle in Britain and share the generous handouts?

    That’s what a lot of Americans want to do, even though our government is against it.

    • Locarno

      Believe me, every damn thing is getting cut, as far as we can tell. Some benefits are already in the line of fire, civil service posts, funding for construction for schools, you name it….

      There are going to be whacking great chunks of the UK MoD – both civillian and military – that we lose. What nobody knows yet for definite is precisely what….

  • zilwiki

    In my opinion they should cut the army more, stay out of large land wars, and concentrate on maritime warfare, their historic strength. The army should concentrate on special operations, raiding, and being able to defend the UK and its overseas territories. All wars are not going to be like Afghanistan.
    I hope this is just being floated to gauge public reaction.

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