Another roller-coaster week in Strategic Defence & Security Review, with a parade of headlines in the news, that if considered chronologically, draw an interesting picture of the evolution of ideas that is occurring at break-neck pace inside the offices of government.
And it all started with the following headline: “Navy to reduce to smallest size ever to save carriers”
Ignore the detail of the leaked letter from Fox to Cameron regarding the sorry state of the SDSR, the single most important conclusion to draw is that once again a British government is endangering the Armed Forces by creating a new strategic direction and then refusing to fund Defence at a level sufficient to drive the vision.
This is not helped by differences of opinion in how an “Adaptable” Armed Forces should be configured. Continue reading →
Early in this year the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre of the MOD produced a paper titled The Future Character of Conflict, an exploration of the threats Britain is likely to face in the next twenty years, in order to inform a future security and defence review. The document focuses on the changes in strategic priorities and capabilities of nations and non-state-actors, and how Britain might react to them. It is an extensive tract broken down into a series of disaggregated bullet points, so for the purpose of this post the most interesting themes have been collated for comment.
What follows is not an analysis of the of the text itself, rather a discussion of how those themes directly impact on the assumptions of the coming Defence review.
Malcolm Chalmers is the author of the latest RUSI paper on Britain’s Future Defence Review, and his interest in this paper is to seek a balanced force against the tide of coming cuts. His concern would be to de-emphasise legacy skills whilst preserving a regenerative capability on the understanding that while they are not crucial now we live in an uncertain world, and as such we must insure against the unknown.
First and foremost it is recognised that we are overspent, over-tasked, likely to witness Defence budget reductions, and must therefore reduce the scale of our capabilities.
It is not news to anybody that Britain’s Armed Forces are about to enter a crisis, with decades of underfunding, followed by a decade of improperly funded wars, followed by the recession led Defence cuts, the result of which is to prompt a Defence Review in the near future.
Of all the analysis on Britain’s Future Defence Review (FDR) conducted by the IPPR, Think Defence, The Kings of War, Richard Norths blog-spot and The Times series on FDR, it is the RUSI series that ask the most incisive questions in my opinion, and this post in particular draws upon the second report: A Force For Honour in order to ask that most basic of questions from which all else follows; what place in the world does Britain wish to hold in the 21st century?