A proposal for the UK MoD, DFiD and industry to generate a port opening and augmentation capability to be used for defence engagement, military operation enabling and disaster relief purposes.
There has been a great deal of speculation about the political and practical desirability of maintaining Overseas Development Aid (ODA) at 0.7% of GNI and whether DFiD budgets should be reallocated to ‘security’.
It seems that the commitment to 0.7% of GNI will remain but there is further discussion about how it should be spent in a post Brexit ‘Global Britain’
I tend to the opinion that whilst spending on ODA is a valid use of scarce public funds, the current organisational means of spending it is not optimal, not significantly joined up across other departments and certainly, suffering from an image problem in relation to corruption and waste.
The issues of so called ‘dual use’ spending are well known, and generally constrained by OECD definitions of Overseas Development Aid, but I do think these can either be overcome if we have some coherent alternative. If the UK is wise, it will re-align DFiD budgets to trade facilitation and improving the human capital of developing nations but in addition, improving disaster response and industrial/security development should also be priorities.
With that in mind, this is a proposal for a ‘dual use’ capability.
There are three needs on which this proposal to develop a port opening and augmentation capability rests;
Development; ports are a vital element of a nation’s economic development, economic development is a means by which conflict is avoided.
Disaster Relief; storms, earthquakes and other natural disasters often require an international response to bring in relief supplies. A port remains the highest capacity means, if it is damaged it needs repair, and in any case, may also need augmentation.
Defence; we should not always imagine expeditionary deployments need to go over the beach, rapidly developing and exploiting smaller ports is also an option.
I will examine these three needs, look at the changing nature of conflict in the urban littoral and that of coastal environments, define a set of broad requirements and then explore a handful of possible options to meet the requirement.
To summarise, it is a proposal for establish a UK Theatre Entry (Port) Capability and when not being used for military use, utilise that capability for disaster response and building security overseas.
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