His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Defence UK send our condolences to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family on the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose devoted and unstinting service to this country will be long remembered.
In particular, we remember his support for all branches of the Armed Forces and his own distinguished service with the Royal Navy during WW2.
David Wedgwood, Chairman, Defence UK
9th April 2021
The Government’s ‘Integrated Review’, Command Paper and Industry Strategy
For Britain’s Armed Forces, the Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy (and the Review’s two linked documents, the Ministry of Defence Command Paper and the Defence Industry Strategy) could certainly be said to be something of a mixed bag. As Defence UK stated in our initial response to the publication of the Review, there are some good things in it, such as the explicit recognition that the UK’s strategic and economic interests require us to look beyond Europe, and the new commitment to building and strengthening alliances in the Indo-Pacific region in particular. The Review is also right to make clear that Russia and China are recognised as far and away the most significant and dangerous threats to international security, and this recognition rightly underpins both the Review and the Command Paper.
We welcome the intention set out in the Review and Command Paper to fully integrate the Reserves within the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces, and we agree that reorganising certain units of the Army to make them more nimble and expeditionary in nature should enhance Britain’s ability to constrain developing situations and hold potential adversaries at arm’s length. Increasing the UK’s stock of nuclear warheads represents a tacit acceptance that a credible British nuclear deterrence requires a credibly large mega-tonnage.
The Government’s plan to reduce the Regular Army to 72,500 personnel has understandably caused a lot of concern, especially when contrasted with the official full establishment strength, although the reduction certainly looks less shocking when the present actual number is taken into account. A smaller Army might not be so bad as long as our soldiers are equipped with the most ‘hi-tech’ weaponry available, and if there is a concerted strategy to improve recruitment and retention of ‘the best’ – an urgent requirement in view of the recent catastrophic failures in recruitment.
Greater emphasis on long-range rocket and mobile artillery fire will have a bearing on the reduction in tank numbers, while the Government’s apparently newfound commitment to short and medium range land-based air defence is long overdue. Older CH-47s are to be retired and more F35s purchased but there is no indication of what type. The Future Combat Air System carries no suggestion of a carrier element, the Sentinel R1 has been dropped and there is mention of the disposal of 14 C130s.
There is a stated intention in the Review for the MOD to have a closer working relationship with industry and draw it more fully into the country’s defence. A Defence & Security Industrial Strategy update to the 2017 Ship Building Strategy may give more details of a Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance and six Multi-Role Support Ships, plus the design of a Type 83 destroyer.
The Integrated Review and its linked documents offer a refreshing and in some respects very welcome ‘re-set’ to UK Defence policy, but there are inherent weaknesses.
Latest Government Publications on Defence
• Integrated Review (16 Mar 21) – Prime Minister
• “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, describes the government’s vision for the UK’s role in the world over the next decade and the action we will take to 2025.”
• Lays down the UK’s vision for the UK in 2030, provides a strategic threat assessment and identifies the UK’s foreign policy priorities.
• Sets out the vision of armed forces with a “full spectrum of capabilities”, a global reach and integrated military capabilities
• Defence Command Paper (22 Mar 21) – Secretary of State for Defence
• “Defence in Competitive Age describes Defence’s contribution to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy”
• Outlines Defence’s overarching objectives, the future battlefield, strategic approach, modernisation of Domains
• Includes a chapter on the MOD's relationship with industry
• This promises a "more strategic approach to industrial capability critical to our strategic and operational needs" and committed to building a more sustainable industrial base
• Not only making the UK armed forces more effective but also to contribute to national economic prosperity by creating and sustaining jobs and increasing productivity and global competitiveness
• Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (23 Mar 21) - Minister for Defence Procurement
• “The DSIS sets out a new strategic approach to the UK’s defence and security industrial sectors”
• “We will seek to maintain the ability to design, develop, test, manufacture and modify complex weapons, as well as integrate them with wider systems and sensors”
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“Defence UK is an independent pressure group that campaigns for a strong and well-resourced Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force, to ensure the security of the United Kingdom, her Sovereign Territories, trade and commerce, and to protect her citizens wherever they may be. We also call for a greater commitment by the UK Government to the nation's defence industries, and to non-military services such as the Merchant Navy, Coastguard, Border Control and Homeland Security that are essential to the Defence of the Realm.”