In association with Bro Don Pearce (Rugby UK) Keep up to date with Bro Don’s Snippets – Email Don at Snippets@MilestonesUK.org Just put in the subject line ‘Snippets Request’ state if you would prefer word doc or pdf format. ( If not stated, both will be sent as samples so you can decide) It’s that easy! Below is an extract from today’s 14th Dec which covers (10-12th Dec 2015)
Britain’s intervention against Isil in Syria and its pledge to spend more on defence show it’s back at the heart of Nato, say two top US defence figures
After five years of cuts to defence spending and fears that Britain was withdrawing from its international role, the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) promised a more internationally active UK, both alongside and in defence of its allies. France, the US and others will be pleased to see that Britain is already acting on this promise in Syria. However if the UK is to maintain this new and welcome position it must effectively implement its new defence policies and maintain its pivotal transatlantic role.
The SDSR made three commitments that are central to maintaining the UK’s leading defence position: spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence; maintain an independent nuclear deterrent through the successor submarine programme to Trident; and work even more closely with Nato allies and partner nations. The US and other members of Nato have welcomed the commitment of a longtime ally to combat an increasingly aggressive Russia and the increase in terrorist attacks worldwide. Nevertheless we remain concerned about precisely how Britain will put this commitment into action.
Since 2008, when Britain began cuts in response to the recession, there have been worries that reduced spending would undermine the UK’s ability to sustain its prominent role in global affairs. The former US Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno, took the unusual step of expressing his “concerns” to The Telegraph that defence budget cuts would make Britain a less dependable ally.
As a former US Secretary of Defence and a Supreme Allied Commander Europe, we have consistently pushed Nato allies to uphold their treaty commitments to spend more on defence capabilities, and ensure that the burdens of the Alliance are equitably borne. If the UK, one of the few countries meeting this obligation, had slipped below the 2 per cent benchmark, it would have set a worrying example and made it more difficult to convince others to increase their own contributions.
For years, then, Britain has done “more with less” in defence. Now it needs to – and can do – ‘more with more'”
The UK has put these concerns to rest, for today. The importance of Britain maintaining its 2 per cent commitment cannot be overstated. Along with the creation of two new strike brigades for global deployment and the accelerated acquisition of
F-35 fighter jets, the plan to extend the lifespan of RAF Typhoons is a particularly pertinent result of this increased spending, as six additional Typhoons are deployed to join air strikes in Syria.
For years, then, Britain has done “more with less” in defence. Now it needs to – and can do – “more with more”. While attention is currently focused on countering the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), it is also important not to lose track of the strategic elements of Britain’s defence structure. The continuous at sea nuclear deterrent is an invaluable contribution to the safety and security of Britain and its allies in an increasingly dangerous world. An attack against a Nato nation becomes harder and more costly for the aggressor, when they are faced with a potential nuclear response not just from the US, but also independently from the UK.
Britain’s SDSR commitment to work more closely with its Nato allies and partner nations in Europe and around the world is welcome. This commitment to alliances will increase the effectiveness of Britain’s own defences twofold: by increasing its capacity to project power as part of coalitions; and through better value of research and procurement spending in cooperative development of new technologies. It also sends a powerful signal to all nations, friendly and unfriendly, that the UK is invested in its partners’ security and has the ability to fulfil its commitments when necessary.
Many of these planned procurements, however, are major projects that will require careful management over several years. This is especially true for the successor submarines to Trident, which will take many years and tens of billions of pounds to build. Our worry is that, in recent years, the MoD has siphoned off funds from procurement programmes for the future to help pay for operations of today. It is important, for example, to ensure that the MoD’s newly awarded funds are not drained away in the Syria operation.
The UK will need to work hard to strengthen its partnerships. Nato works because the US and Europe have shared values and a commitment to security and common defence. The UK has played an essential role in bridging transatlantic differences that occasionally strain the Alliance. We believe that Britain needs to settle the question of its position in Europe.
Syria shows that the UK is stepping back into its position of international leadership and strengthening its alliances at a time when strength is needed. To ensure it continues to play this important role in the future, the long-term commitments in the SDSR must now be guaranteed.