The Government has published the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), outlining its five-year plan for investment in the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and the Army to deter threats, protect the UK and its allies and improve on our national ability to respond to crises. There will be “major investment” in tackling terrorism and cyber crime.
The SDSR confirms that the Government will legislate in 2016 to consolidate the powers the police and security services require to keep us safe – with “unprecedented transparency, robust safeguards and world-leading oversight” – and ensure the law keeps pace as communications technology develops.
The Government will implement its new Counter-Extremism Strategy, in turn “promoting the values which unite us as we counter extremist ideologies and disrupt extremists” while building partnerships with all those opposed to extremism and establishing more cohesive communities.
The SDSR outlines how the Government will strengthen our national ability to detect the movements of people and goods that present a threat, using technology and better data on land, sea and air passengers and cargo in conjunction with intelligence and targeting.
In addition, the SDSR establishes that the Government will “introduce more automation” such that border officials may be located where they are needed most, including to satisfy an enhanced presence at our sea ports.
The Government is also scheduled to work with international partners on investments in new technology, ensuring the radiological and nuclear detection systems at the UK border remain “among the best in the world”.
An official statement from the Home Office reads: “We will redouble our efforts to choke the supply of illegal firearms to prevent their use by criminal or terrorist groups in the UK. We will continue to invest to ensure that we have the right intelligence, detection and enforcement capabilities and policies in place internationally, at the UK border and within the country. We will also press for stronger EU-wide action designed to tackle the illegal possession and trafficking of firearms, set more stringent standards for deactivation and encourage greater information sharing.”
The statement adds: “We will also introduce new measures to make the UK a more hostile place for those seeking to use the proceeds of crime and corruption and evade sanctions. We will also ensure we have the right capabilities in place to better identify, disrupt and dismantle the networks involved in modern slavery and immigration crime.
Complex and challenging nature of the threat
Home Secretary Theresa May said: “The events of the past few weeks and months emphasise the hugely complex and challenging nature of the threats we face. Terrorists and serious organised criminals are communicating across continents, smuggling people, weapons and drugs over borders and harming people around the globe.”
The Home Secretary continued: “Our Strategic Defence and Security Review is a co-ordinated, considered and comprehensive response to these threats both on and offline. We will promote the values which unite us and counter the twisted narrative of extremism. We will boost the capacity of our police and security services to detect and disrupt those who seek to do us harm. We will strengthen border security and key infrastructures to protect our interests at home and abroad and we will constantly review our contingency plans to ensure that we’re prepared for any event.”
The SDSR pledges to increase cross-Government spending on counter-terrorism by 30% in real terms over the course of this Parliament. Other commitments include:
*1,900 extra security and intelligence staff at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ
*funding for aviation security around the world being set to double to more than £18 million per annum
*cyber security spending to reach £1.9 billion a year by 2020, with a new National Cyber Centre at the heart of plans designed to make Britain “the best protected nation in cyber space”
Focus on the Armed Forces
The 2015 review analyses the full range of threats and examines the capabilities needed to counter them. The review promises nine new maritime patrol aircraft for surveillance, two new Army strike brigades, treble the number of F-35s by 2023 and the service of Typhoon jets being extended by ten years through to 2040.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) will spend £178 billion on equipment over the next decade, representing an increase of £12 billion on previous plans. The defence budget will increase by 0.5% above inflation for the rest of this Parliament, in turn allowing investment in people, equipment and the MoD’s estate.
The MoD will be able to deploy a potent, expeditionary force of around 50,000, based on a land division, maritime task group and expeditionary air group. Joint Force 2015 will be a more capable force to meet the challenges of today and ready for those presented tomorrow.
The risks and threats faced by the UK have increased in scale, diversity and complexity since the last SDSR in 2010. Russia’s resurgence, the increasing cyber threat, instability in the Middle East and North Africa and the growing threat of international terrorism illustrate exactly how much the challenge has evolved.
Defence is continuing to adapt to meet these growing threats and the MoD is investing heavily in the capabilities required to respond quickly and effectively.
Combat power expanded
The combat power of the RAF will be expanded with two additional Typhoon squadrons and 24 F-35 jets rather than eight as was previously planned. There will also be a new fleet of Protector intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance armed remotely piloted aircraft and a fleet of P-8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft with an overland surveillance capability.
The first of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, namely the HMS Queen Elizabeth, will enable initial aircraft carrier strike operating capability in 2020. The River Class Offshore Patrol vessels fleet will be replaced with a modern and more capable variant. The Royal Navy will operate 19 destroyers and frigates and new Type 26 Global Combat Ships will enter service from the mid-2020s while maritime helicopters will continue to be upgraded.
The Army’s size will be retained and reconfigured to have two armoured infantry brigades and two new rapid-reaction strike brigades. A number of infantry battalions will also provide specialist training and assistance to allies, including for counter-terrorism purposes.
Defence budget on the increase
Speaking about the SDSR, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “On equipment, we’re spending some £12 billion more than we originally planned. We’re spending £178 billion. That means more ships, more planes and more equipment for the Special Forces. For the first time in some years, the defence budget as a whole is going to start increasing from April and through every year of this Parliament. We’ll be spending more money on keeping our country safe.”
Fallon continued: “There will also be greater investment in defence intelligence, cyber capabilities, Special Forces equipment and interoperability with allies to support better and faster decision-making. The MoD will modernise arrangements for Service personnel by introducing flexible terms of working and a new accommodation offer to help them live in private accommodation or own their own homes. A new offer for recruits will meet the needs of individuals and defence.”
The Defence Secretary concluded: “By protecting the nation and building international stability, defence also makes a key contribution to economic security and prosperity.”
To read the full SDSR click here
Response from the ADS Group
Paul Everitt, CEO of the ADS Group, has responded to the Government’s announcements.
“The Prime Minister has delivered a well-conceived and pragmatic response to the new and challenging threats to our national security,” asserted Everitt. “The commitment to additional equipment, services and support, along with the financial stability provided in the Chancellor’s Summer Budget, provides the best framework yet for the UK defence and security industries to contribute to the safety of our nation.”
Everitt continued: “This SDSR has been marked by a significant level of engagement between Government and industry, and we look forward to continuing this approach into implementation. The focus on innovation, support for exports and a ‘refresh’ of the 2012 industrial policy are extremely welcome. The commitment to support UK SMEs and provide early and more structured access to defence and security procurement opportunities will be supported across industry.”
In conclusion, Everitt said: “The strategy recognises the importance of industry’s contribution to supporting national security and prosperity. Highlighting the role of defence and security exports reinforces their essential part in the UK’s efforts to support our allies and international partners. They make joint operations easier and more effective, and help vulnerable nations build the security and stability required to combat today’s threats posed by terrorism, organised crime and mass migration.”