06 Dec 12. The Defence Committee has taken the unusual step of announcing its outline programme for the remainder of the Parliament. Its purpose in doing so is, by setting out its strategy, to encourage comment on and engagement in its general direction and its inquiries.
The Committee’s priority during this Parliament has been and remains to help to shape the next Strategic Defence and Security Review. In order to do this it intends to carry out:
1. An over- arching inquiry – which may be divided into individual more specific inquiries – to examine the purpose and future use of the Armed Forces. This would include:
• the strategic balance between deterrence, containment, intervention and influence
• the utility of force
• the legitimacy of force, including the political/military interface and lessons learned from current and recent operations
* the effect of changes in the interpretation of the law on the prosecution of operations, and the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs, commonly known as “drones”)
• the relationship between hard and soft power in terms of influence.
2. An inquiry into Army 2020, including: recruitment; reserves; redeployment from Germany; re-basing; and availability of training areas.
3. An inquiry into Future Force 2020, including the regeneration of capacity. This would draw upon the Committee’s other inquiry work and focus attention on the forces needed for contingency operation; the balance between the three services and between regulars and reserves; role-sharing; and co-operation with allies. It is expected to be the final inquiry of the series.
While the Committee will follow the general structure of the inquiries set out above – the terms of reference and precise timings of which will be announced in due course – that will not be all it will do. It will also maintain its programme of inquiries into current operations, aspects of the Armed Forces Covenant, emerging threats, and the administration and finances of the Ministry of Defence. It will continue to follow up previous inquiries. It will also, of course, retain sufficient flexibility to react to unexpected events. If you wish to be kept up to date with the progress of any inquiry you will find information on the Committee’s website as it becomes available. Alternatively, to receive email notification of all the Committee’s public meetings and Reports, you can join the Committee’s mailing list by emailing with the subject header “Join DefCom mailing list”.
04 Dec 12. The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee heard evidence from Lord West of Spithead, the former Chief of Naval Staff and First Sea Lord, on the impact of an Independent Scotland on the UK nuclear deterrent. Lord West made an opening statement to the Committee which was, “I believe that the damage to our islands’ defence and the economic costs, particularly to Scotland, of separation have not been properly exposed and indeed that there have been attempts to hide the impact from the Scottish people. There are of course many variables. It is very difficult to actually work out some of these costs and things but it is quite likely that over 10,000 jobs would be lost in Scotland – bases would close and I have spoken to a number of defence firms that have parts of their organisations in Scotland and they would also close in Scotland and move south. That is what they have said to me. I asked them why haven’t they come out and said this publicly and they refer to a climate of fear within Scotland and that they can’t say anything which I find quite remarkable. I am also concerned … that our Government say they are not doing any contingency planning. They say separation won’t happen. If this is really so that they are not doing any I think it is a dereliction of duty. There are huge implications for the United Kingdom and I know jolly well that where I the First Sea Lord today I would turn a Nelsonic blind eye to such instructions from the Secret