The study of UK defence policy has always been central to RUSI's work. It remains one of the largest elements in the Institute's research programme and has set the parameters of debate on pressing defence issues.
On 7 September 2015 the British prime minister controversially announced that two British citizens had been killed in RAF drone strikes. The point is not so much that they were British but that he was targeted in an area that the UK does not currently regard, legally, as an operational theatre of war for UK forces.
Britain’s Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is toying with the idea of asking Parliament for permission to expand Britain’s campaign of airstrikes from Iraq into Syria. His impulse should be tempered with a sense of strategy.
It is reasonable to assume that there will be a real-terms increase in the defence budget now that the Conservatives have full control of the government. However, commitments to future military interventions are less certain.
The first report of the UK government’s ‘Defence Growth Partnership’ is aimed at addressing barriers to growth for the defence industry. With on going austerity measures in UK defence, the focus will have to be on export opportunities abroad.
The UK can do little to affect the Syrian civil war. But it is shoring up its interests on the periphery of the conflagration, reinforcing the UK’s military reorientation East of Suez. The question is whether, in light of Parliament’s vote last month, the Government now wants to say so.
As the UK sends 330 personnel to assist France's military intervention in Mali, there are real concerns that, like Afghanistan, the UK will be mired in another intractable conflict. However, the strategic conditions are very different for this to happen and it is wrong to assume there will be mission creep.
On 1 February 2012, the UK government published its long awaited on defence procurement. It sets a vision intending to reform Britain's fraught acquisition and procurement process, but the challenge will be at the implementation stage.