Select Committee on Defence Sixth Report

1  Introduction

1.  On 18 July 2002 the Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Geoffrey Hoon MP, published what he described as a "groundbreaking White Paper,"[1] The Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter

    setting out further and more detailed conclusions, particularly in the area of capabilities to counter terrorism abroad.[2]

The work which led up to this document was launched following the terrorist attacks of September 2001 and announced by the Secretary of State in a speech to the Labour Party Conference of October 2001.[3] He noted that the attacks on the United States (US) had brought home the question of "whether we are doing enough to cope with the full force of the new threats we face", and while "military action alone is not the answer…there may not be an answer where military action does not play a vital part". He added that—

    we will be looking again at how we organise our defence. This will not be a new Strategic Defence Review, but an opportunity—if necessary—to rebalance our existing efforts.[4]

In the House he announced that it would be a new chapter to the 1998 Strategic Defence Review—

    this will not be a new strategic defence review, but we need to add a new chapter to it and to look hard at our priorities in our plans and programmes…[5]

2.  In a speech at King's College, London in December 2001, the Secretary of State listed an "immensely challenging and complex" series of questions that the New Chapter would seek to answer. He said that the work would be "detailed and rigorous", and would "leave the United Kingdom properly positioned to deal with the new threats".[6]

3.  In this report we attempt to examine how far the New Chapter has met the objectives set for it and to what extent it was an appropriate response to the events of 11 September 2001 and the new threats they represented. This report focuses on issues of doctrine, concepts and general policy. It also makes some comments on other elements of the New Chapter, such as equipment, force structure and personnel issues. We expect to return to these in future inquiries, including our forthcoming examination of the military campaign in Iraq. In undertaking this inquiry, the Committee is building on the work it did on two previous reports: The Threat from Terrorism[7] and Defence and Security in the UK,[8] both of which dealt with aspects of the New Chapter.

4.  During the course of our inquiry we took evidence from Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials and from academics and other experts. We visited 45 Commando Royal Marines in Arbroath, held an evidence session at the Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre (JDCC) in Shrivenham, conducted a workshop on the New Chapter at King's College, London, took evidence from the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Admiral Sir Michael Boyce GCB OBE ADC, representatives of the volunteer reserves and their employers, the Chief of Defence Logistics (CDL), Air Chief Marshal Sir Malcolm Pledger KCB OBE AFC, and held a number of other meetings. We concluded with an evidence session with the Secretary of State for Defence. We also received a number of written memoranda and are grateful to all those who contributed to the inquiry. We were assisted by our specialist advisers: Professor Michael Clarke, Rear Admiral Richard Cobbold, Air Vice-Marshal Professor Tony Mason, Dr Andrew Rathmell and Brigadier Austin Thorp.

1   Statement on the SDR New Chapter, HC Deb, 18 July 2002, col 460. Back

2   Ibid, Published as Ministry of Defence, The Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter, Cm 5566 Vol I, and Supporting Information and Analysis, Cm 5566 Vol II, July 2002, hereafter SDR NC Vol I and Vol II. Back

3   'This fight will be long and hard', speech by Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon to Labour Party Conference, Brighton, 2 October 2001.  Back

4   Ibid Back

5   HC Deb, 4 October 2001, col 809-810. Back

6   "11 September-A New Chapter for the Strategic Defence Review", speech by Secretary of State for Defence, Geoffrey Hoon, at King's College, London, 5 December 2001, Back

7   Defence Committee, Second Report of Session 2001-02, The Threat from Terrorism, HC 348-I and HC 348-II. Back

8   Defence Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2001-02, Defence and Security in the UK, HC 518-I and HC 518-II. Back

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