Whichever Political Party wins the expected General Election in May 2010, there is bound to be a Strategic Defence Review which will set out the policy for not only the UK’s Armed Services but also foreign policy for the next decade, with longer term implications far beyond that.
Looking at a Defence Review purely with military binoculars is short-sighted. The review will be taking place in the context of both domestic and international developments. The Government is under pressure to reduce the national budget deficit and to reduce spending. Education, Health and Social Services are very unlikely to face cuts for political reasons. In this coming age of austerity, Defence is almost certainly bound to be one of the sectors that will face cuts. Major projects such as the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers, the Joint Strike Fighter, the Future Surface Combatant and the projected new SSBN Submarines will all come under close scrutiny.
There is an international perspective too. As a key member of the EU, NATO and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK has a significant role in international politics. Without capable armed forces, the UK’s international standing will be undermined to the point of talking but not acting – unable to contribute to peacekeeping forces, for example. And in an increasingly unstable and unpredictable world, hallmarked by global terrorism and piracy, it is hard to see where the next threat will come from.
The Royal United Services Institute, a respected think tank on Defence, Security and Foreign Affairs is running analysis on the Future Defence Review. They have already released some very useful working papers on the background to the review, on Defence Spending in Austerity, Military Strategic Options, Multilateral approaches to Security and ‘Jointery’ in the MOD and the armed forces.
Daly History will be covering and commenting on the Defence Review, and indeed Defence issues in the coming General Election.
Click here to look at the RUSI’s Future Defence Review analysis