The Defence Missions and Policies
58. Defence Policy 2001 lists five priorities
in defence policy, all of which are consistent with the SDR:
- National and European Security
- Wider Security Interests and Conflict Prevention
- Force and Capability Development
- Managing and Supporting Defence
59. We also note a useful simplification ('clarification')
of the defence missions.
These are now defined under eight headings as follows:
A: Peacetime Security.
To provide forces needed in peacetime to ensure the protection
and security of the United Kingdom, to assist as required with
the evacuation of British nationals overseas, and to afford military
aid to the civil authorities in the United Kingdom, including
military aid to the civil power, military aid to other government
departments and military aid to the civil community.
B: Security of the Overseas Territories. To
provide forces to meet any challenges to the external security
of a British Overseas Territory (including overseas possessions
and the Sovereign Base Areas) or to assist the civil authorities
in meeting a challenge to internal security.
C: Defence Diplomacy. To provide forces to
meet the varied activities undertaken by the Ministry of Defence
to dispel hostility, build and maintain trust, and assist in the
development of democratically accountable armed forces (thereby
making a significant contribution to conflict prevention and resolution).
D: Support to Wider British Interests. To
provide forces to conduct activities to promote British interests,
influence and standing abroad.
E: Peace Support and Humanitarian Assistance Operations.
To contribute forces to operations designed to prevent, contain
and resolve conflict, in support of international order and humanitarian
principles, and to contribute to efforts to deal with humanitarian
crises and disasters.
F: Regional Conflict and Crisis. To contribute
forces for a regional conflict (but not an attack on NATO or one
of its members) which, if unchecked, could adversely affect European
security or which could pose a serious threat to British interests
elsewhere, or to international security. Operations are likely
to be carried out under the auspices of the UN or relevant regional
G: Regional Aggression against NATO. To provide
forces needed to respond to a regional crisis or conflict involving
a NATO ally which calls for assistance under Article 5 of the
H: Strategic Attack on NATO. To provide, within
the expected warning and readiness preparation times, the forces
required to counter a strategic attack against NATO.
60. These missions represent a sensible reorientation
of defence priorities given that the United Kingdom and its NATO
allies do not face the prospect of direct aggression against their
territories for the foreseeable future. Missions A, B, G and H
remain vital and inescapeable commitments for UK defence policy,
but for the coming decade, the concentration of effort will mostly
be on defence missions C, D, E and F, where there is still a great
deal to be specified and where a number of difficult resource
questions are likely to arise.
61. Mission C, Defence Diplomacy, was a new mission
articulated in the Strategic Defence Review in 1998. It gives
a useful and usable overview of existing activities in the fields
of arms control, non-proliferation and confidence and security
building measures; outreach; and other diplomatic activities in
which the MoD and the Armed Forces play a prominent part. In drawing
together the activities involved in these three military tasks
the Defence Diplomacy initiative attempts to add coherence to
a number of diverse activities and gives more political prominence
to their achievement.
62. Nevertheless, there is, as yet, little activity
one could point to that would not anyway have taken place and
little evidence of new resources devoted to Defence Diplomacy
to increase its overall impact. The Secretary of State, the Permanent
Secretary and the Policy Director noted some modest increases,
but also noted that the review of Defence Attaché posts
had resulted in a net increase of just one.
These are, however, early days for Defence Diplomacy and the mission
is, by definition, a long-term policy. Perhaps the most important
innovation within Defence Diplomacy featured in the MoD paper
is a cross cutting review on conflict prevention
MoD, FCO, and DfID all have
a major interest and role in conflict prevention and crisis management
MOD will work with the FCO, DfID, Treasury and Cabinet Office
to develop detailed arrangements for implementing this new approach
under the supervision of the Cabinet Ministers concerned. This
will mean setting joint objectives and priorities for action and
pooling resources from which agreed priorities will be funded¼
we believe that this new way of working across Departmental boundaries
will enable the government to make an increasingly effective contribution
to conflict prevention.
63. This initiative may provide a useful test of
the efficacy of the Defence Diplomacy mission, since conflict
prevention will require a great deal of work to specify what it
will mean in regional conflict and crisis and how it should be
pursued. Not least, conflict prevention can only be properly pursued
through a process of "joined up government" and will
provide a test of progress towards a more coherent external security
policy. We comment below on the new 'conflict prevention budget'
but, so far, the initiative appears to be progressing slowly.
We hope our successors will be looking for evidence that the new
budget, and the Defence Diplomacy mission, do indeed represent
a "new way of working across Departmental boundaries".
64. Both defence missions D and E loom large in our
present defence policy, and reflect the prominent role that British
forces play in contributing to world order. It is becoming evident,
however, that playing these roles comes at a higher price than
might have been anticipated. In particular, they raise major questions
of concurrency for UK forces. Our experience in such operations
over the last decade has shown how easily a medium level military
operation can then become a small, but open ended, operation that
may have to be pursued simultaneously with other small operations.
This is expensive, creates overstretch in particular specialist
areas, and runs the risk of draining the forces of capabilities
that could be required at short notice for more major operations.
Concurrent, small operations where the UK cannot hand over responsibility
to other military forces, or appropriate civil agencies, have
become a source of stress on operational resources which should
not be underestimated.
65. Contributing forces to operations designed to
'prevent, contain and resolve conflict', as set out in defence
mission E, raises some difficult issues. The key question is how
to integrate peace support operations into a clear strategy of
conflict prevention. The most productive approach will be to concentrate
on preventing the next conflict, where conflict has already
occurred in some way: breaking into a dynamic of violence in order
to stabilise a situation which has already become a manifest crisis.
Defence Policy 2001 stresses the importance of efforts
to prevent conflict 'occurring in the first place, to reduce the
impact of conflict and to develop post-intervention strategies
to resolve the underlying causes of tension.'
The actions of UK forces in support of IFOR and SFOR in Bosnia
after 1995 provide a good example of a 'post-intervention strategy',
forestalling and perhaps preventing, a return to war.
But this is a rather particular version of 'conflict prevention',
which can only be short-term and, while helping to create the
conditions in which they can be tackled, does little to address
the underlying issues. As described in Defence Policy 2001,
the concept is extremely challenging.
66. Defence mission F, to respond to regional conflict
and crises where they may pose a threat to European security,
represents the largest, most likely, military contingency UK forces
may face in the near to medium term. As crises in the Gulf, Africa
and the Balkans have demonstrated, regional instability can be
extremely difficult to contain and may require large, multi-national
deployments of personnel and equipment to gain leverage either
to support threatened allies or to help generate some local stability.
The existence of war-fighting capabilities are essential to the
UK and its allies in such circumstances. Equally important, however,
are the capabilities of the UK and its allies to deploy appropriate
headquarters in regional conflict and crises, capable of commanding
war-fighting operations. The number of headquarters that NATO
could deploy which are capable of combined, joint operations out
of the NATO area, and which are able to work effectively with
other elements of an international response, are very limited.
Though the UK's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) has been shown
to work well, and under UK command the ARRC has proved itself
as an operational HQ, the UK cannot be expected always to take
the lead. The lack of sufficiently capable headquarters on
the part of our European allies is a serious matter for concern,
given the increasing importance of the regional conflict prevention
and crisis management defence mission. This, of course, is an
issue which will have to be addressed in the context of the EU's
European Security and Defence Policy.
67. Under the heading of 'Wider Security Interests
and Conflict Prevention', the Department identifies its priorities
outside Europe as lying in North Africa, the Gulf and the Middle
Despite the omission of Sub-Saharan Africa from this list, one
of the most high-profile UK interventions of the past two years
has been its support of the elected government of Sierra Leone.
Whether this intervention suggests that the listed priorities
relate more to the scale of operation the government might be
prepared to contemplate, or more to the scale of the perceived
threat to our security, is not clear. The Sierra Leone operation
was undertaken outside the context of either NATO or the EU, and
we note the reference to the developing EU crisis management capability
in this context. As the Policy Director suggested obliquely to
us in evidence on this topic on 28 March,
the European force could increasingly come to be seen as an instrument
whose main application will be outside the NATO area.