You are here
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.