20 Nov 15. Defence Committee – Oral Evidence Session: SDSR.
Tuesday 24 November 2015 – The Grimond Room, Portcullis House, Westminster.
• Dr David Blagden, Strategy and Security Institute, Exeter University
• Professor Patrick Porter, Strategy and Security Institute, Exeter University
• Professor John Gearson, King’s College, London
• Dr Chris Tuck, King’s College, London
• Peter Roberts, Senior Research Fellow, Royal United Services Institute
The main purpose of this one-off oral evidence session is to gain the first reaction to the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, which is due to be published on Monday 23 November. The Defence Committee will be taking evidence from academics and experts on Tuesday 24 November to discuss the main issues that emerge from the Review and the resulting implications for UK defence policy.
20 Nov 15. Defence Committee Report. Britain should develop versatile Armed Forces capable of adapting to a range of potential crises, rather than trying to predict which of them will actually occur, says the Commons Defence Committee in today’s Report on the imminent Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). Flexible Response? An SDSR Checklist of Potential Threats and Vulnerabilities identifies 6 potential threat areas and 5 general vulnerabilities against which the Committee intends to “mark the card” of the SDSR which is due to be published on Monday.
The Report challenges the Government’s methodology of assigning threats to three groupings, ranked according to the likelihood of them occurring as well as their potential impact. The Report states:
“We believe that the Government’s “tiered” approach to mapping the threat picture—soon to be set out in the National Security Strategy—is flawed in assuming that the probability of potential threats becoming actual ones can reliably be predicted.”
The 11 potential threats and vulnerabilities are viewed, not as exhaustive, nor as likely to be predictable significantly in advance of the onset of a crisis, but as credible possibilities which any national strategy for defence and security must take into account. They are:
A. Threat Areas
• Cyber-attack and espionage
• Growing instability in the Middle East and North Africa
• Increases in extremism, radicalisation and other enablers of terrorist activity
• Non-state actors and hybrid warfare undermining the international rules-based order
• Potential for conflict in the South and East China Seas
• Potential for Russian aggression in Europe and the High North and possible dilution of the commitment to Article 5
B. General Vulnerabilities
• Economic dependence on unreliable partners
• Inability to react to sub-conventional threats
• Inadequate training opportunities for UK Armed Forces
• Lack of numbers in UK Armed Forces and gaps in capabilities
• Lack of expertise in Whitehall
Each of these potential threats and vulnerabilities is analysed in detail in the Report.
Defence Committee Chairman Dr Julian Lewis MP commented:
“Any worthwhile Defence Review and Security Strategy ought to cater for the potential dangers on our checklist. Yet, there is overconfidence in Government that it can reliably predict which threats will transpire. History has proven that this approach does not work.
“The SDSR needs to deliver a structure for the Armed Forces within which they can react appropriately when unforeseen threats arise. That requires adaptable and flexible Armed Services underpinned by a wide range of high quality single-service, joint and multi-national training.”
19 Nov 15. Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill. Following the oral evidence sessions on the Armed Forces Bill, the Bill will be formally considered in public. Please see below for details.
Tuesday 24 November
Committee Room 17, Palace of Westminster
House of Commons and House of Lords Hansard Written Answers
Asked by Douglas Chapman
(Dunfermline and Wes