You are here

A Force for Order: Strategic Underpinnings of the Next NSS and SDSR

Malcolm Chalmers
Briefing Papers, 5 May 2015
Global Strategy and Commitments, UK Defence Policy
The grand strategic objectives of UK foreign and defence policy remain as valid as ever. But their application needs to be adapted to changing circumstances

The fundamental or 'grand strategic' objectives that underpin UK foreign and defence policy remain as valid as ever. But their application needs to be adapted to changing circumstances in the next National Security Strategy (NSS) and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

This briefing paper lays out the basic principles of the UK's role in the world - and its key interests - that will guide the next SDSR. Whatever budgetary settlement the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is able to obtain in the 2015 Spending Review, capability planning requires clarity on both national objectives and on the role of military force in pursuing those objectives. Given the uncertainties of the international environment, assumptions on the latter are bound to remain provisional and contingent. Even so, some basic principles – both thematic and regional – can be outlined:

  • Be a ‘Force for Order’

  • Help to Build Peace in the Wider Middle East

  • Contribute to Deterrence of Russia

  • Be Cautious about a UK Military Pivot to Asia

  • Maintain a Broad Spectrum Force and Invest in Quality even at the Expense of Mass

  • Develop a New Approach to NATO Burden-sharing

With the UK General Election campaign having featured a debate on defence spending and the UK’s NATO commitments, the paper calls for a mature burden-sharing debate within NATO that cannot be based primarily on crude top-down numerical targets. Rather, it must be based on a more bottom-up approach, in which all member states have an obligation to take part in all significant NATO operations, but in which the specific nature of their contribution beyond this should be sensitive to their own national situation.

About the Author

Professor Malcolm Chalmers is Research Director and Director, UK Defence Policy at RUSI.

Author

Malcolm Chalmers
Deputy Director-General

Professor Malcolm Chalmers became Deputy Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 30 November 2015. He is... read more

Support Rusi Research

Subscribe to our Newsletter