Exposing the incoherence and weaknesses in the United Kingdom’s defence and security strategies.
“Defence of the Realm is the first priority of any government. Its funding should be the first priority of the Exchequer.”
Few of us would disagree with this statement, notwithstanding our personal views on particular issues. However, defence priorities are increasingly viewed in the context of the Afghanistan war and the merits of retaining Trident. Whilst these are very important subjects they are all too readily seized upon, resulting in many remaining largely ignorant of the broader defence picture. As a consequence, many of us that are concerned to ensure that the UK’s strategic defence needs and its armed forces personnel are appropriately funded wish to ensure that the full picture is both understood and properly debated now that the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) has reported and drastic actions have been taken by the Coalition Government. We wish to ensure that key priorities receive the financial resources needed to guarantee effectiveness.
To help focus discussion DefenceSynergia has put together a short paper outlining what were, in our pre-SDSR view , some significant considerations. Post the SDSR we have taken a strong position on the essential requirement for MoD reform both centrally and within the procurement process. We support the ‘Gray Report’. But we oppose the scrapping of the Harrier, Nimrod MRA4 and the disposal of HMS Ark Royal which decisions seem strategically flawed in view of the stated UK foreign policy obligation to defend our overseas territories. We also deplore the politically motivated decision to defer ’Main Gate’ for the Trident replacement and the attendant treasury edict that the nuclear deterrent must be financed totally by the MoD.
We appreciate that the government has to make some very difficult decisions about future budgets but believe that defence priorities must be protected, particularly since the defence budget, in stark contrast to many other big spending departments, has significantly failed to keep up with inflation over many years. We do however believe that the threats to our future security must be understood and properly mitigated against. Which is why our web site www.defencesynergia.co.uk covers many of the issues debated on ‘Think Defence’ sometimes but not always agreeing with TD contributors. Therefore, you are invited to take a look and judge for yourselves.
Post Script: DefenceSynergia has recently made its second input to the Defence Committee of the House of Commons in respect of SDSR. Details to follow.
I am writing on behalf of the Founders and Associates of DefenceSynergia (DS), who, to a man are committed to pushing the case for cohesive, effective and properly funded defence of the UK. Hence we are delighted to engaged with Think Defence specifically because the articles and debate on this site provide a measured and constructive approach in respect of defence issues.
The DS web site is designed to provide a vehicle for wider circulation of our aims and objectives. Like many a web site it has been structured to reach as wide an audience as possible and provide a range of views – not just our own and in case our drive for independent thought has been missed, we have created an archive area in which a list of personal and collaborative papers are available to choose from – mostly pre-dating the recent SDSR.
On a practical level DS has, in a very real sense and in a short period of time, engaged with the opinion forming institutions within parliamentary circles. We have had several defence papers accepted by the SDSR team, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees and communicate regularly with elected representatives who share a common interest in defence matters. We continue to pursue these goals and, whilst extending our contacts, will input to the Defence Reform Unit (DRU) and Defence Committee again in the near future.
However, as TD will be all too aware, getting any government to listen to external advice – from whatever quarter it originates – and then to finesse a change of policy is a tortuous, frustrating and often nugatory exercise. [That is unless the politicos sense a public shift in opinion that can affect their election prospects]. However, this does not prevent DS or others from continuing to try. Therefore, I can confirm that we are not a group of ’grumpy old men’ but a discrete functioning defence lobby group – supported by a broad-based professional cadre of Founders, Associates and contacts – who, like TD, are determined not to allow this debate to be dominated solely by the media or Government and MoD PR specialists and placemen.
Can we succeed where others have failed?
We intend to find out.