11 Jul 12. Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy Report. Government has failed to engage with arguments, says committee on National Security Strategy. The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy published a report highlighting concerns about the Government response to its March 2012 report, First review of the National Security Strategy 2010. The Committee welcomes the Government response, and the Government’s commitment to provide it with more information in future, but says that the Government has failed
* to respond adequately to the Committee’s concerns about the implications of recent US strategy documents, the potential impact of Scottish independence, and the consequences of the Eurozone crisis
* to take the opportunity to look at how it could do things differently
* to press ahead with planning for the next National Security Strategy (NSS).
The Government acknowledges the need for advance planning on the next NSS: “it will be necessary to start thinking about the work plan for the 2015 review well in advance of 2015”” and “HMG […] agrees that it will be important to start thinking about the work plan for the next NSS well in advance of 2015”. But there is nothing in the response to indicate that it has begun drawing up plans for this.
In its report the Committee identifies three key reasons why planning for the next the NSS needs to begin immediately:
1) It is important that the next NSS, Strategic Defence and Security Review and Comprehensive Spending Review are able to influence each other
2) The Committee wants a much broader involvement of the public, as well as academics and experts external to Government, than was possible in the relatively short timeframe of the last NSS
3) The Committee thinks the next NSS should be a very different document, more candid, more explicit and addressing the difficult questions.
The Committee says “if the Government is to hold a genuinely extensive public debate on our future NSS before political attention turns to the next General Election, it needs to get on with it”.
The Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Margaret Beckett MP, said:
“The last NSS, SDSR and CSR were (understandably?) produced in great haste, and are the weaker for it. There is little sign of the forward planning needed to avoid those mistakes being repeated – still less of an an approach to build consensus which could establish a sound foundation of long-term planning for our nation’s security. There is still time (just) for the Government to put this right.”
12 Jul 12. Depleted Uranium (DU) Ammunition: Review Completed. In a Written Statement (12 Jul 12), the Armed Forces’ Minister reminded the House of Commons that he had ordered a legal weapons review of the UK’s DU anti-armour tank rounds, known as Charm-3. The review has been completed and “has concluded that Charm-3 is capable of being used lawfully by UK Armed Forces in an international armed conflict”. The Statement continues with a reminder that “Charm-3 is the only munition within the UK arsenal manufactured using DU”.
Comment: As indicated by the Statement, the Challenger main battle tank’s 120mm anti-tank round is the only in-service DU munition. Two 120mm armour-piercing, fin stabilised, discarding sabot (APFSDS) rounds are available: those with a tungsten penetrator are used in training and those with a DU penetrator may be used in Operations. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 12/28, 16 July 12)
12 Jul 12. Marchwood Port: Sale Arrangements. The Defence Equipment Minister issued (12 Jul 12) a Written Statement on the Marchwood Sea Mounting Centre. The Minister concluded that the MoD is to “focus on developing the commercial proposal by the end of this year” and “any sale will be dependent on the prevailing market conditions at the time….”.
Comment: The MoD’s determination to sell Marchwood has never been satisfactorily explained. Retaining the Port under military control (the efficient 17 Port &