Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

What specific measures are you undertaking to protect against CBRN threats at home rather than on deployed operations?

  The Committee will be aware that the Home Office takes the lead in protection against and the response to CBRN threats in the UK. The MoD acts in support.

  For some years the MoD has provided a capability to identify and make safe a CBRN device. Information on this capability was provided in evidence to the Committee during their enquiry into "Defence and Security in the UK". The Committee is consequently referred to their Sixth Report of Session 2001-02—Volume II: Minutes of Evidence and Appendices, and in particular Questions 448 to 495 and supplementary material provided to the Committee and published at Ev 100 (Q456) and Ev 104 (Q492). Members of the Committee were, we understand, also briefed on this capability during this enquiry when they visited AWE Aldermaston and Porton Down.

  This is a significant capability, and is regularly exercised and updated to ensure that it keeps in step with the threat. It is available at all times and at short notice. There was consequently no need to develop a new capability as part of the SDR New Chapter work, although continual technical up-dating is of the essence in this field.

  Although the lead on the response to the consequences of a CBRN incident would also rest with other government departments, MoD can expect requests to provide support to this response should an incident occur. This response would be drawn from capabilities and units available at the time. This would include the provision of regular units, but the SDR New Chapter also identified the possibility of an enhanced role for the Reserves in providing support. The Committee will be aware of the Discussion Document published by the MoD in June, entitled "The Role of the Reserves in Home Security and Defence" which outlined some of the roles the reserves might play. Those members of the Reserve Forces volunteering for this role will be trained to the necessary competence levels, in order to act in chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological conditions if necessary.

What lessons has the New Chapter drawn from operations in Afghanistan and how do these fit in with earlier lessons from Saif Sareea II?

  MoD has produced operational lessons reports on both Exercise Saif Sareea II[2] and operations in Afghanistan[3]. Both reports were used to inform the New Chapter work. Further reports on Ops FINGAL (the ISAF deployment), JACANA (the 3 Commando Brigade deployment) and VERITAS Volume 2 are currently being staffed and will help to identify priorities in taking forward the New Chapter work.

  The work on Afghanistan has, in the context of addressing the wider threat, stressed the importance of Defence Diplomacy, continued engagement with allies, deterrence, coercion and the need to address the problems of terrorism at their roots. In terms of specific capabilities required the importance of network centric capability, enhanced SF capability, more capable light forces, enhanced strategic lift, enhanced force protection, increased intelligence capability (especially HUMINT, ISTAR), and further development of precision weaponry have all emerged as key lessons. These themes have been developed in NC work.

  Saif Sareea II emphasised the importance of appropriate training, with allies, in different environments and at the appropriate scale. The exercise meant the UK was well poised for subsequent operations in Afghanistan. It also allowed further refinements necessary to the JRRF capability to be identified, especially in terms of strategic lift and environmental effectiveness of equipment—all themes echoed in current reports on Afghanistan.

Are there plans to increase the size of Special Forces and, or, their budgets, and what sort of equipment enhancements are you considering for Special Forces.

  There are no plans, as a result of the New Chapter work, to increase the numerical size of the Special Forces. The number of Special Forces available is sufficient for those high-value tasks they undertake. As the Defence Secretary has indicated, it would not be sensible to go into detail concerning SF equipment enhancements.

Is the MoD planning to change the tempo of operations and deployments as a result of the pressure on a number of servicemen and women who "have been working at or near, and in some cases beyond, the boundaries of what was planned in the SDR"

  Certain key trade groups have been working beyond what we assumed would be the case in the Strategic Defence Review. These groups are mostly in the logistics and support area (chefs, doctors, movements staffs etc)—often referred to as the "enablers". The intervals between overseas deployments for many of these individuals have been less than we assumed in SDR. On the plus side, other front line units have enjoyed intervals between operational tours which were longer than we had assumed—though this conceals the fact that individuals might move between units and thus go from one operational tour to another rather more quickly.

  The tempo of operations is driven by external factors. However, we can ensure that the force structure is well balanced to meet our planning assumptions, and we will be considering this as part of this year's planning process. We are also looking closely at the ways we carry out training to avoid unnecessary deployments, while bearing in mind that the vast majority of our people relish the opportunity to exercise their skills in an operational setting. We are introducing career management processes that are more sensitive to individual circumstances, although the Service needs will always remain paramount. Finally, we will seek to ensure that the pay and allowance package for our people compensates them properly for the work they do. The Committee will be aware that the Armed Forces Pay Review Body takes these factors into account in making their annual recommendations about pay and allowances.

What specific role does MoD envisage for NATO in home defence and countering terrorism?

  Acting against terrorist threats is not a new mission for the Alliance—it is already encapsulated within the 1999 Strategic Concept[4]. But, as with all NATO missions, the key to their successful prosecution depends upon the continued modernisation and adaptation of the organisation and, in particular, the accelerated acquisition of effective, deployable and sustainable military capabilities. Much of our thinking on what NATO can and should do in the war against international terrorism is predicated against these improved capabilities.

  As the White Paper makes clear, NATO has already acted very positively since 11 September 2001. By invoking Article 5, taking a range of practical measures (including deployment of early warning aircraft and naval forces), and taking action against terrorist groups with Al Qaida links in the Balkans, NATO has sent a clear message to international terrorist organisations that an attack on one ally will be treated as an attack on all. This sent a deterrent message to terrorist leaders and any states contemplating giving them succour. Credible deterrence is a part of home defence and NATO has a continued pivotal role to play here.

  Deterrence aside, NATO forces and capabilities could contribute greatly to preserving the integrity of member states' territorial waters and airspace. In addition, the work NATO has done to date (and will develop further in future) on WMD protection has utility not only for the security of deployed forces but also for supporting national authorities' home defence and consequence management arrangements and capabilities. UK will continue to pursue these themes as the Alliance debates the scope of its response to international terrorism.

  By providing a forum for allies, partners (including Russia) and Mediterranean Dialogue countries to discuss security risks and develop effective mechanisms to deal with them, NATO already does much to foster international co-operation in counter-terrorism. UK wants to see both these initiatives and NATO's wider co-operation with other security organisations expanded in order to maximise the benefits derived.

  And at the operational end of the spectrum there is the possibility of counter-terrorist operations being carried out under NATO command and control, or being facilitated through NATO structures and operational planning mechanisms. But even when not involved directly NATO has a fundamental role to play as the facilitator of (ad-hoc, EU, US or UN-led) coalitions of the willing through the provision of common doctrines, training and interoperability—the key to the execution of multinational operations.

How does the MoD expect ESDP to be influenced by the New Chapter work?

  Since 11 September, many of our EU partners have also been reviewing their defence and security policy in the light of the attacks. We have also been working together within the EU and are taking action together against terrorism through a co-ordinated and inter-disciplinary approach embracing all EU policies.

  ESDP can play an important part in that approach, particularly in the stabilisation role identified in the White Paper. The EU's first crisis management operation—the EU Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina—is one example of the shared European commitment to stabilise post-conflict regions, and to help establish the rule of law. (There are also linkages between other activities in the White Paper—civil protection, prevention and disruption—and EU action in areas outside the scope of ESDP).

  And investment in new equipment and capabilities for counter-terrorism will be mutually reinforcing with capability development work already in hand to address the Headline Goal shortfalls.

Is the MoD considering increasing its activities under Defence Diplomacy and how does it fit in with the NCC and the New Chapter.

  MoD is increasing the effectiveness of Defence Diplomacy and our other international Defence co-operative activities, (eg through NATO and Europe) in achieving our national security objectives, including those which have been identified as part of the SDR New Chapter. The latter involves using Defence Diplomacy to maximise the prospects for support from our partners, both bilaterally and multilaterally, for Defence efforts to counter international terrorism. These efforts include deploying our Armed Forces on peace support operations—which aim to increase stability in regions of concern, operations to disrupt terrorist support networks and operations which strike at the terrorists themselves.

The doctrine of fighting abroad rather than at home and the possible requirement for pre-emptive action may increasingly require host-nation support. How will such requirements be balanced with the discussion of the legal context of possible British military action where HNS is in question?

  When considering large-scale or medium-scale war-fighting abroad, our sea-based forces alone may not be able to provide the required proximity to the target area or the necessary combat mass to accomplish all strategic objectives. Therefore the provision of political and/or practical HNS will be an essential pre-requisite for mounting credible sustained combat operations in-theatre.

  Our Defence Diplomacy and other politico-military activities (such as defence export sales, bi-lateral military exercises and peace support operations) within key geo-strategic regions aim inter alia to develop an increasing number of states willing and able to provide suitable HNS thereby offering us reduced strategic risk and improved operational flexibility.

  Practical HNS requires the unequivocal formal consent of the providing nation and thus, by extension, if the provision of support is in question official consent must either not have been received or withdrawn if previously given. In the absence of such consent, military operations by UK forces could be undertaken within the land, sea or air borders of another sovereign state only where such action is fully consistent with international law.

The Committee is also interested in having a detailed explanation of the process of the New Chapter. How many staff were involved; what were the various work streams and who were the directors of these studies; why was the number of work streams reduced halfway through the process; what was the extent of MoD's consultation beyond the occasions listed in the White Paper?

  As was explained in Section 7 of the SDR New Chapter White Paper, Supporting Information and Analysis, a number of Working Groups were set up at the start of the process, each led by a senior official or senior military officer. Details are given below:
Working Group Chair (and post held during New Chapter process)
Strategic IssuesAir Vice Marshal David Hobart, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Policy)
Overseas Relations & DeterrenceMr Brian Hawtin, Director General International Security Policy
Home Defence and SecurityMr Bruce Mann, Director General Financial Management
Overseas OperationsPhase 1: Major General Tony Milton RM, Director General Joint Doctrine and Concepts

Phase 2: Major General Rob Fulton RM, Capability Manger Information Superiority

  Work was split over two phases, the first focused on the policy and conceptual framework, the second on potential capability and resource implications. Only the latter two groups carried their work forward into the second phase. In each of the work groups, sub-groups formed as required to tackle particular elements (such as science and technology, airspace integrity or defence diplomacy). Issues with implications across all working groups, principally personnel, were co-ordinated centrally.

  About 150 staff, both military and civilian, were involved, from a variety of government departments, and beyond.

  We consulted widely outside government, at the various events described in the White Paper. In addition, senior officials throughout the Department discussed the issues with their international partners, and with the academic world whenever possible.

How did the MoD consult with the members of the individual services themselves? What consultation with Allies in Europe and outside Europe took place that fed into the New Chapter process?

  In the first instance, consultation with the Services was facilitated through the involvement of the single-service programming, planning and secretariat staffs in the New Chapter work. Wider consultation was achieved through the publication and dissemination of the New Chapter "Discussion" document on 14 February. The document, together with a summary leaflet, was sent to every Service officer at one-star level and above, with the request that personnel were made aware of the consultation and told how to pass their comments to the New Chapter team. The discussion document was also covered by the main internal newspapers/magazines (FOCUS, Navy News, Soldier and RAF News) and published on the MoD Intranet and Internet sites to maximise its availability to members of the armed forces. Hard copies of the document were also sent to individual forces' organisations and clubs and to former Chiefs of Defence Staff in the House of Lords.

  Separately, the discussion document was circulated widely for comment particularly to NATO and EU allies and aspirant states, to the NATO Secretary General and the EU's High Representative, and to Foreign Defence Attaches resident in London. We also used regular formal contacts with bilateral partners to air our New Chapter thinking and gauge their reaction. The New Chapter initiative also featured regularly on MoD ministers' and senior officials agenda with in-coming dignitaries.

  On 12 June we issued a second discussion paper—this time on the Role of the Reserves in Home Defence and Security. Reservists were the primary focus of this consultation exercise. Consultation has been undertaken through the Chain of Command and responses were received back on 13 September. As with the first consultation exercise, we covered the main internal newspapers/magazines (FOCUS, Navy News, Soldier and RAF News) and published on the MoD Intranet and Internet sites to maximise its availability to members of the armed forces.

The committee would like to see copies of the responses to the public exercise, if necessary in confidence.

  The public consultation was intended to stimulate a full and frank discussion of the issues and, as such, the individuals who responded were not specifically asked for permission to publish their responses. Before agreeing to provide the 252 responses to the public consultation exercise that were highlighted in Section 8 of the SDR New Chapter Supporting Information & Analysis document, we are obliged first to seek permission from each of the respondents.

What further publications in the New Chapter Process can be expected?

  It is our intention to publish our conclusions on the roles of the Reserves in Home Defence and Security this winter, following the completion and review of the consultation process we initiated on 12 June.

The Secretary of State has stated that work on next year's White paper was already underway—in which month will the 2003 White Paper be published? How does the New Chapter fit into other work underway in the Ministry and in what ways will these efforts be co-ordinated?

  Our intention remains to publish the White Paper next year. The New Chapter is being fully co-ordinated with, and integrated into, the Department's annual processes through the strategic planning and equipment and programming mechanisms that already exist. A One-Star official has now been appointed to oversee the New Chapter implementation phase and to facilitate the co-ordination and integration work. He will deliver the agreed New Chapter measures, take forward further detailed policy and force planning development particularly in the Home Defence and Security area, and act as the Department's focal point for external interest in the implementation process.

2   Appraisal of Exercise SAIF SAREEA II-D/DOC/9/7/1 dated 10 April 2002 (not published). Back

3   op VERITAS Vol 1-D/Doc/12/36 dated 20 March 02 (not published). Back

4   Paragraph 24: "Any armed attack on the territory of the Allies, from whatever direction, would be covered by Articles 5 and 6 of the Washington Treaty. However, Alliance security must also take account of the global context. Alliance security interests can be affected by other risks of a wider nature, including acts of terrorism, sabotage and organised crime, and by the disruption of the flow of vital resources. Arrangements exist within the Alliance for consultation among the Allies under Article 4 of the Washington Treaty and, where appropriate, co-ordination of their efforts including their responses to risks of this kind." Back

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