Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum from the Ministry of Defence (30 September 2002)

Did the New Chapter use the same foreign policy baseline as the original SDR? If so will you provide it to the Committee? If not, what were the differences?

  It was considered prudent to begin the New Chapter by reviewing the original Foreign Policy Baseline for the SDR (as articulated in the 1998 White Paper and its Supporting Essays). It was the judgement of the working group responsible (that included FCO officials) that, with some minor changes in emphasis to reflect the scale and potential of the asymmetric threat especially posed by International Terrorism, the Foreign Policy Baseline was still valid.

What does network-centric capability (NCC) mean for existing structures, what time frames are envisaged for implementation and what capabilities are deemed less than critical in the delivery of military effect to prevent, deter, coerce, disrupt and destroy in the post 9/11 world ?

Which elements of the armed services are likely to be the primary focus of the New Chapter and the NCC? Which platforms or types of platforms may be no longer required to provide capability? What barriers to integration with NCC face reserve forces?

  A key aim of the New Chapter is to increase our capability rapidly to deploy forces capable of undertaking operations against international terrorists. The detailed implications of the New Chapter, and of a further shift in investment towards NCC, for force structures and equipment programmes are being considered as part of the Department's normal planning process, and we expect to be able to reflect the outcome of this work in a further White Paper next year.

  As stated in the New Chapter, the key to delivering NCC is the ability to collect, fuse and disseminate accurate, timely and relevant information rapidly to deliver situational awareness—ie a better and shared understanding amongst commanders at all levels. The early capability enhancements announced in the New Chapter will help to contribute to the overall goal of improved situational awareness. For example, the extra mission console for the E3-D aircraft will improve the quality of the radar picture and this additional fidelity will enable targets to be passed to other aircraft with greater precision. This will help reduce uncertainty and potentially shorten mission times, increasing operational tempo. The WATCHKEEPER UAV will also provide an important collection and analysis capability, providing an essential part of the integrated sensor matrix required to help realise the benefits of NCC. Whilst WATCHKEEPER will be focused on the land component's information requirements, we are conscious of the wider potential of UAVs and the joint-service UAV Operational Development Unit will examine this broader utility.

  The focus of the New Chapter work in respect of the reserve forces has been on their closer integration with the UK emergency services and local authorities. This is the ethos behind the volunteer reaction forces proposal.

How are capabilities designed to dominate the battle-space useful in fighting terrorist networks?

  UK military doctrine already emphasises the need to deliver military effect precisely, rapidly and reliably. The aim is to maximise combat effectiveness by making decisions and acting quicker than an adversary, highly relevant to exploiting the fleeting opportunities to engage terrorist groups. This is known as manoeuvre warfare. Underlying this approach is the ability to absorb and exploit large quantities of raw data and transform it rapidly into the direction of military action. These capabilities support the concept of Knowledge Superiority and are equally applicable in the combating of terrorist networks.

  The SDR NC study determined that the military could contribute to a range of effects. For example, precision weapons and their supporting sensor systems, that contribute to domination of the battlespace, are particularly effective where there is a particular need to limit collateral damage, and to respond to fleeting targets.

It has been argued that the MoD's vision of NCC differs from that of the Pentagon. Can you explain these differences and their implications for interoperability?

  Network Centric Warfare (NCW) is a formal US networking concept and doctrine at the heart of the US transformation process. It has been described as `the embodiment of the information age transformation of the DoD'.[1] The central tenets are:

    —  robustly networked sensors, headquarters, units and weapons systems improve situational awareness;

    —  situational awareness contributes to the quality of command and decision-making;

    —  that in turn increases tempo, operational effectiveness and the likelihood of mission success.

  The UK's NCC thinking shares the philosophy of NCW, but is focused on evolving the concept pragmatically through the provision of a coherent framework to link sensors, decision makers, units and weapon systems. Crucial to the realisation of this concept is ensuring that we have the right calibre people and that they are well trained to cope with the demands of the information age. The aim is to realise an ability to implement more effectively a range of military effects such as prevention, deterrence, coercion, disruption and destruction.

The SDR spoke of going to the crisis before the crisis comes to us. The New Chapter discusses the attractions of fighting the enemy abroad rather than at home—to what extent does this represent an evolution in MoD thinking of the balance between home and abroad?

  The essential logic remains the same. SDR focused on developing our expeditionary capabilities, with the creation of the Joint Rapid Reaction Forces and planned purchases of new strategic transport aircraft and ships. As outlined in Section 2 of the New Chapter White Paper, it is better where possible to engage terrorists before they get the opportunity to attack. The New Chapter recognises more explicitly that expeditionary or power projection capabilities are a necessary component of our ability to ensure the immediate and direct security of the UK.

The Secretary of State said on 30 July 2002 that in most deployments the UK would be working with "more than one ally". Which allies are being considered in this regard? Which allies have or are planning to have NCC that would be interoperable with ours?

  NATO remains the cornerstone of our defence and security policy and as such we will continue to develop common doctrine, training and equipment compatibility to consolidate our ability to operate alongside our NATO Allies. For some operational theatres where the US or NATO may not be actively engaged, possibly at lower scales, we could expect to play a leading or prime supporting role to other NATO allies, EU partners or the UN. Equally, we are keen to explore and develop regional links with nations beyond these alliances, recognising the political as well as military importance of host nation support.

  Network Centric Capability has the potential to revolutionise future military operations. Currently, our focus is on our interface with the US, recognising their likely leadership role in NATO and other operations. However, we would wish to be able to provide similar connectivity, possibly at lesser scale, with EU partners in due course: much will depend on their ability to invest appropriately.

The Secretary of State has referred to safeguards in existing command structures that may be lost in NCC. How will those safeguards be replicated in the new structures? Is the MoD considering the pressures that NCC potentially places on decision-makers and their advisers, in light of the opportunities and challenges of near-real time information?

  The provision of training facilities to help commanders understand and maximise the benefits of NCC will be an important element in ensuring normal safeguards are developed, and is an issue being taken forward in the course of further work.

  NCC is intended to enable more timely decisions to be made on better information. The Secretary of State noted the challenges this presents. The significant improvements we plan through networked capability will help to clear the "fog of war", providing greater clarity to all levels as to what actions need to be taken. The safeguards we currently use to ensure political control of military operations, including through the appropriate delegation of ROE, will continue to be fundamental. The challenge is to make decisions more quickly whilst preserving key controls.

Does the MoD have a clear picture of how the Command chain is going to be changed by the development of NCC and what elements of old-decision making structures are to be eliminated?

  It is still early days in the MoD's analysis of what real opportunities networked capability will provide for changing elements of existing decision-making structures, and which of these may no longer be required.

  In parallel with the development of NCC, studies are currently underway that will look at a broad range of possible command structures. Issues to be examined will include the removal of command layers and/or the development of more integrated and joint multinational Headquarters. These studies will also consider the relevant safeguards provided by current structures and how they can be maintained in the future environment.

What specific new roles are envisaged for Commander in Chief Land Forces?

  The New Chapter White Paper set out, in paragraph 79, that there would be a "clearer", as opposed to a new, "role for the Headquarters of the Commander in Chief Land Forces, as the principal focus for the provision of military assistance to civil authorities in a wide range of operations". The Commander in Chief Land Forces will therefore be responsible for co-ordinating support from all three Services (where appropriate), not just the army.

Is the MoD considering a new overall command structure for Special Forces, or elite forces (ie Marines/Paratroops and others), beyond the JRRF concept?

  Following our analysis, it was decided there would be no operational benefit in changing present arrangements. Improved arrangements for the integration of Special, and other Forces into the JRRF have been implemented as a result of New Chapter work and lessons learned during recent operations.

When will full capacity for the Reaction Forces from the Volunteer Reserves be achieved? What does the New Chapter's target of initial capacity mean? How many more staff will be available in each brigade headquarters under current proposals for strengthening joint liaison arrangements?

  Our proposals for the formation of Reaction Forces have been subject to formal consultation, and comments from the Reserves were due by Friday 13 September. Once we have analysed all of the responses, we shall look again at our various proposals, before the Secretary of State makes his decision on the use of Reserves in Home Defence and Security, and presents this to Parliament.

  If the Reserves are supportive of the Reaction Force concept, then we would aim to have an initial capacity in place by the end of the year. This would mean that the structures would be in place, and volunteers identified, but that the full training cycle would not yet have begun. The Reaction Forces would be available to respond to crises but the individuals would not have trained together. Communications would be provided by existing systems.

  Our current proposals are that each of the regional brigade headquarters will have two additional staff (one of which will be TA) for strengthening liaison arrangements. These could be augmented when circumstances dictated.

What number of concurrent operations is now being planned for, at what scale and for what duration? Do the SDR's small, medium and large categories still apply? If more small operations are envisaged—is the SDR's assumption that two medium operations should be sustainable still valid? Can several small operations be undertaken during a large-scale operation under the SDR's categories?

  The SDR New Chapter has recognised that frequent smaller-scale operations are becoming the likely pattern of future commitments for our forces. However, as the Secretary of State for Defence made clear in his speech to RUSI on 30 July 2002, the Department is now working through the implications of the new challenges that have been identified and no decisions of any kind have yet been taken. It is anticipated that the outcome of this work will be included in the general Defence White Paper that will be published next year.

The New Chapter White Paper mentions a number of equipment capability areas that may be affected by the New Chapter review—Watchkeeper, FRES, E3-D AWACS, air-defence radar systems, and "critical enabling assets" including deployable headquarters, communications, "MARS" and deployable logistics support. The Committee would like information on each of these and any other programmes that will be modified or introduced (or indeed cancelled) following the SDR New Chapter. For each programme, this should include details of changes to timescales, cost estimates, acquisition approach, and the envisaged implications for operational capability.

  The New Chapter publication announced some changes to specific programmes. These were: WATCHKEEPER, E3-D Sentry and air defence radar systems. Further information on all these programmes is provided below. These and other programmes raised in the question contribute to the outcomes we are seeking from networked capability. The need for changes in those programmes not subject to formal announcement will be addressed as part of the Department's normal annual equipment planning process, which considers the forward programme.


  FRES is a family of Armoured Fighting Vehicles in which we hope to replicate, over time, the levels of protection and firepower currently available within our heavy forces, whilst providing improved tactical mobility, in a platform which is strategically and operationally air-transportable. It is currently envisaged that FRES will provide the capability to conduct sustained, expeditionary, full spectrum operations in a combined-arms, joint and multi-national context, in a wide range of future operating environments. FRES will support the achievement of rapid effect and it is a capability, therefore, that is fully coherent with the direction of the SDR New Chapter. Initial approval of the programme is due in 2003, with the aim of an In Service Date of 2009. It is intended to use innovative approaches to the acquisition of FRES to meet the demanding timescale, including the possibility of partnering with industry. The plan for acquisition is one of the elements to be confirmed during the Assessment Phase.


  WATCHKEEPER will provide accurate, timely and high quality imagery and image intelligence to satisfy the land manoeuvre commanders' critical information and intelligence requirements throughout a range of environments and operations. The UAV-based solution will form a vital part of the land component's ISTAR mix. The total costs of WATCHKEEPER are being reviewed as part of the annual planning round but, as a result of the SDR New Chapter, additional funding up to £50 million over the period 2003-06 has been made available in order to bring forward the ISD by up to two years.

Joint Service UAV Operational Development Unit

  A joint service UAV Operational Development is to be established to examine the use of UAVs in areas beyond those currently defined and exploited in the WATCHKEEPER programme. The Unit will be manned by personnel from the 3 Services and will experiment widely to scope the roles that UAV Systems might play. It will also gather information to support the analysis for meeting capability gaps and to reduce the risks associated with the development of operational concepts and information management. Specific objectives for such a Unit are still being refined by the Directorate of Joint Warfare.

  The costings are subject to the normal annual planning considerations but are expected to be in the order of £60-70 million to support the establishment of this Unit, which will form by the end of 2003.

E3-D Extra Mission Console

  The extra mission console will enable the E3-D to conduct full airborne battle management at a level that will ensure interoperability and interchangeability with the USAF AWACS aircraft in the face of increasing operational complexity and tempo. As discussed earlier (Questions 2, 5 and 19), the key aspect of this increase in capability will be improvements in situational awareness. Work is to be completed by the end of 2003 at a cost of around £5 million


  This measure will provide the Air Surveillance and Control System with additional information from selected primary radar's based at civil airfields to complement current coverage of UK airspace by military radar systems. Costs are expected to be in the order of £20 million over the next decade.

What measures will be undertaken to establish a Quick Reaction Alert aircraft capability at Marham, St Mawgan and Yeovilton, and in what timescales and at what cost?

  The general requirement is to provide a facility that, if activated, will allow the deployment and operation of air defence fighters in the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) role for an unspecified period. This therefore covers the provision of first line maintenance support of the aircraft, technical and domestic accommodation for their crews and personnel, and provision of live weapon storage facilities commensurate with appropriate licensing regulations. The facility must be capable of sustaining 24 hour alert. Furthermore, robust communications with the tasking authority and air defence radar network will be required.

  At RAF Marham, which already accommodates ground attack Tornado aircraft, deployment of air defence (F3) Tornado aircraft is not an uncommon occurrence, although it would be rare for live-armed Tornado F3 aircraft to deploy. Indeed, with scheduled runway resurfacing work due to commence at RAF Coningsby next year, possible redeployment of Coningsby-based Tornado F3 aircraft had already been expected, prior to the new QRA requirement emerging.

  Infrastructure requirements at RAF Marham include the purchase and build of a portacabin complex to provide operational and domestic accommodation, together with the necessary communications and IT linkages. Deployed aircraft would be housed in extant Hardened Aircraft Shelters. The total cost is expected to be some £650k. The full facility is expected to be available from June 2003 (although Tornado F3 aircraft could deploy in extremis before then).

  RAF St Mawgan is already used on an occasional basis for deployments of RAF aircraft. It, too, has operated Tornado F3 aircraft during exercises in the past. Building works are limited to the conversion of operational and domestic facilities within an existing Visiting Aircraft facility, together with the provision of communications and IT facilities as for RAF Marham. Existing Hardened Aircraft Shelters are available and compatible with the QRA task. This work will be completed in April 2003 and is expected to cost approximately £150k.

  Of the three bases, RNAS Yeovilton requires the most extensive investment. Additional hangarage, in the form of a Rapid Erect Shelter, together with revetted aircraft parking slots will be required. Additionally, modification will be needed to the existing weapon storage facility to meet current licensing regulations. As RNAS Yeovilton is not currently scaled for 24-hour operations, additional manpower would be required to operate beyond current airfield operating hours. This might be provided by detaching manpower from parent units; this area is now being studied. The work is expected to take three years to complete at a cost of £4 million for infrastructure requirements. Here, too, aircraft could deploy to the base if necessary in a crisis.

1   DoD Report to Congress on NCW Jul 2001. Back

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