February 3, 2010
A Defence Policy and Business news article
A Green Paper posing fundamental questions for the future of Defence ahead of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR), which will take place after this year's General Election, has been published by the MOD today, Wednesday 3 February 2010.
The Green Paper, titled 'Adaptability and Partnership: Issues for the Strategic Defence Review', analyses the complex and uncertain future for which the Government must plan, sets out some essential principles for Defence going forward, and identifies key questions that the SDR must address, including:
• What contribution should the Armed Forces make in ensuring security within the UK?
• How could we more effectively employ the Armed Forces in support of wider efforts to prevent conflict and strengthen international stability?
• Do our current international defence and security relationships require rebalancing in the longer term?
• Should we integrate our forces with those of key allies and partners?
Since the last full SDR in 1998, the threats to our national security have changed dramatically. While we know that our defence priority today is Afghanistan, we must also prepare for the threats of the future.
Today's Green Paper analyses the wide range of potential threats to the UK, including terrorism, nuclear states, cyber-warfare, resource scarcity and climate change. It also reflects on the lessons learned from our experience in conflict, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When confronted by this uncertain future, the Green Paper concludes that:
the Armed Forces must become more flexible and adaptable, and better able to respond quickly as and when new threats emerge;
we cannot defend ourselves inside - or on - our borders alone. As in Afghanistan, we must continue to tackle national security threats at their source, and so our action at home must be complemented by targeted action overseas;
our Armed Forces' vital role must be complemented by close relationships with our international partners. Our relations with our strategic allies, including in Europe as well as the US, will be ever more important;
close co-operation across Government will be vital to maximising our impact. We must bring together defence, diplomatic and development efforts as part of an integrated civil-military approach.
This Green Paper is the product of broad consultation within the Defence community. It has been informed over six months by members of the Defence Advisory Forum, including opposition politicians, former military personnel and academics.
Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said:
"There is no more important function for Government than Defence. This Green Paper will stimulate debate about the future of Britain's defence ahead of a Strategic Defence Review in the next Parliament.
"Afghanistan is the top priority today but we must also ensure that our Armed Forces are ready to confront the challenges of tomorrow. The current and emerging threats we face are characterised by uncertainty and will require a more flexible response from an adaptable Armed Forces."
Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, said:
"I welcome this Green Paper. It is a first and a significant step on the road to the forthcoming Defence Review that will shape our security in the years ahead. The issues the Green Paper raises are of fundamental importance to all citizens of this country, and I look forward to a vigorous and widespread debate on them in the coming months."
Whatever the future holds for our Armed Forces, it is essential that they continue to have the very best equipment, supported by world class procurement processes. That is why the MOD is also publishing today a Strategy for Acquisition Reform.
This builds on the recommendations of last year's independent Bernard Gray Review of Defence Acquisition into defence procurement and sets out steps to improve governance, risk management, transparency and cost-control in order to deliver an efficient, well-managed and high quality equipment programme for the future.
However, this not a point-by-point response to Gray, and the strategy goes some way further to address issues not featured in the Review of Acquisition such as safety and sustainable development.
Bernard Gray stated that lessons must be learned to improve long-term acquisition projects; he was also clear that his report did not relate to current operations. Our forces in Afghanistan are equipped through Urgent Operational Requirements and these continue to deliver the kit our forces need, when they need it.
Commenting on this new strategy, Minister for Strategic Defence Acquisition Reform, Lord Drayson, said:
"It is vital that defence acquisition is as efficient as possible. This is a strategy for major reform. At its centre is a radical plan to increase the transparency of our equipment plan, to help ensure it can be kept affordable and achievable. By managing our plans and projects better, and strengthening our relationship with industry, we will improve the delivery of the battle-winning equipment that our Armed Forces deserve."
Download the Defence Green Paper.
There is a also comment-enabled version of the Defence Green Paper, where you can have your say on the key questions, at http://defenceconsultations.org.uk/
If you would like to provide more substantive comments, details are provided at the link on the right hand side of this page: The Defence Green Paper 2010.
UK Ministry of Defence