The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (JCNSS) is launching an inquiry into the National Security Capability Review (NSCR). It’s to be the second inquiry of this Parliamentary session. In July last year, the Government announced a review of national security capabilities. This NSCR is informed by cross-departmental teams working under the direction of the National Security Advisor. The aim of the Capability Review is to ensure that the UK’s investment in its national security capabilities, as set out by the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review, “is as joined-up, effective and efficient as possible” when it comes to addressing ever-changing security challenges.
The National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review were last updated in 2015 and are due for renewal in 2020. A report is published annually to review the progress of implementation, with the NSCR intended to complement this work.
The JCNSS plans to hold a two-part inquiry on the NSCR.
Chair of the Joint Committee, Dame Margaret Beckett MP, commented: “The National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review provide the framework for our national security capabilities. In December, we took evidence from the Prime Minister’s Security Advisor, Sir Mark Sedwill, who told us that the UK was facing new challenges to its national security. We intend to consider how the threats and the wider security environment have changed and how the Government is dealing with this.”
National Security Capability Review
In this first Call for Evidence, the Committee is particularly interested in receiving submissions which address the specific areas of national security policy that are under consideration as part of the NSCR and ways in which the threats to the UK’s national security have changed since 2015, and especially so in relation to the particular challenges identified in the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review.
There’s a focus on the increasing threat posed by terrorism, extremism and instability, the resurgence of state-based threats and intensifying wider state competition, the impact of technology (and notably cyber threats) and the erosion of the international rules-based order.
The Committee is also keen to focus attentions on the extent to which the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review has been able to respond flexibly to the evolving national security challenges facing the UK in terms of the strategic analysis and the range of capabilities set out in the document, including defence.
The latter encompasses changes to the wider international security environment, such as the change of leadership in the United States and the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, the extent to which the NSCR was necessitated by challenges in delivering the capabilities set out in the 2015 National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review, whether the total resources allocated by (and the skills available to) the Government in relation to national security are sufficient to meet today’s challenges and appropriately balanced across the range of capabilities set out in the 2015 National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review and, last but not least, the extent to which it was possible to anticipate back in 2015 the trajectory and pace of changes in the national security environment since the publication of the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Written evidence can be submitted using the Committee’s web portal. The deadline for responses has been set as Friday 9 February.
Established to consider the National Security Strategy, the Joint Committee was reappointed by the Commons in October 2017 and by the Lords last November. Its role includes scrutiny of the structures for Government decision-making as well as cross-Government expenditure and policy related to the National Security Strategy.