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Silhouette of a soldier at sunset. Courtesy of Ministry of Defence / Open Government Licence

Five Tests for the Integrated Review

Will Jessett, Tom McKane and Peter Watkins
Occasional Papers, 8 December 2020
UK Integrated Review 2021, Defence Spending, Defence Policy, UK, UK Defence
This paper proposes five tests to compare the Integrated Review with the most significant defence and security reviews since 1990.

The Integrated Review has been billed as the deepest and most radical review of UK foreign, defence, security and development policy since the end of the Cold War. How can such a claim be assessed? This paper focuses on the defence aspects of the review, and proposes five ‘tests’ to compare it with the most significant defence and security reviews since 1990:

  1. How accurate were the assessments in previous reviews about changing threats and risks to the UK and international security and stability, and the quality of the headline policy responses?
  2. How successful were the defence planning responses in previous reviews and which have had the greatest impact on activities, posture and capability/force structure planning?
  3. Were the changes to capabilities and force structures in each of the reviews the right ones?
  4. Were sufficient efforts made to achieve an enduring balance between policy, commitments, the forward programme and the defence budget?
  5. Did the changes made to the management of defence in previous reviews produce the desired effect of greater efficiency and effectiveness; where did they go too far, or not far enough?

Will Jessett retired from the MoD in 2019. His last role was as the department’s Strategy Director, in which he led the MoD’s work on the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the 2017 National Security Capability Review and the 2018 Modernising Defence Programme. He worked in a variety of roles during his 33 years in public service, in the UK and overseas, specialising in strategic planning and the conduct of defence and security reviews. He is now pursuing a second career advising overseas governments and commercial organisations on strategy and planning. He has affiliations to RUSI, King’s College London, Exeter University and the Atlantic Council. 

Tom McKane retired from the MoD in 2014. Between 2008–14 he was, successively, Director General Strategy and Director General Security Policy in the MoD. In 2012, he was briefly acting Permanent Secretary. He led the MoD’s work on the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review. During a career spanning 37 years, Tom worked in a variety of roles in the MoD, Cabinet Office, Northern Ireland Office and overseas. Particular interests include NATO, nuclear matters and hybrid warfare. He now divides his time between consulting on defence business and think tank activity. He has affiliations to RUSI, the London School of Economics IDEAS and the European Leadership Network. 

Peter Watkins left the MoD in 2018. Between 2014–18 he was, successively, Director General Security Policy and Director General Strategy & International in the MoD. During a career spanning 38 years, Peter worked in a variety of roles in the MoD and overseas, including many years in defence acquisition. Particular interests include: strategic policy and planning; the UK’s cross-government response to Russia and China; defence relations with NATO, the EU and with key bilateral allies; and defence policy aspects of cyber, space and novel technologies. Peter now spends his time mainly on academic and think tank activity. He has affiliations to King’s College London, the London School of Economics IDEAS, Chatham House and the Atlantic Council.

BANNER IMAGE: Courtesy of Ministry of Defence / Open Government Licence.

Will Jessett CBE
Senior Associate Fellow

Will Jessett CBE is a Senior Associate at SC Strategy Ltd. He recently (early 2019) retired from the UK Ministry of Defence after 33... read more

Tom McKane
Distinguished Fellow

Tom McKane is a Distinguished Fellow of RUSI and a visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is... read more

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