Select Committee on Defence Sixth Report

5  Policy Framework

60.  The purpose of the New Chapter was, as we have seen, to establish a policy framework within which the MoD and the Armed Forces would be able to construct an appropriate and effective response to the threat from international terrorism. It set out a range of effects which military action might be able to contribute to a broader campaign to "eliminate terrorism as a force for change".[92] These were branded as actions to "prevent, deter, coerce, disrupt and destroy". This conceptual framework is represented graphically by the MoD in the following chart—



61.  The New Chapter exercise built on the doctrinal work previously underway in the MoD and attempted to develop a model for the military contribution to the war on terror.[93] Taking the lead in this doctrinal effort was the JDCC, which was established following the SDR in February 1999 to develop joint doctrine and provide long term conceptual underpinning for the future operations of the three armed services. The Centre is an integral part of the policy process in the MoD and, as we have seen, was deeply involved in the early stages of the New Chapter work.[94]

62.  The major publication of the JDCC is British Defence Doctrine. It lists the essential elements of British doctrine as—

  • the principles of war (listed as, selection and maintenance of the aim, maintenance of morale, offensive action, security, surprise, concentration of force, economy of effort, flexibility, co-operation and sustainability);
  • the war fighting ethos (that the UK's Armed Forces most important function is to prepare for and if necessary to be prepared to fight);
  • the manoeuvrist approach (influencing the enemy's will to fight is as important as physical destruction of his ability to fight—but might involve both);
  • the application of mission command (decentralised command, responsive to superior decision) ;
  • the joint, integrated and multinational nature of operations; and
  • the inherent flexibility and pragmatism of British doctrine.[95]

It also notes that "military activity is about confronting risk and managing it. It is emphatically never about avoiding risk; the military profession is not for those who are risk-averse".[96] Crucially it highlights the importance of attacking an enemy's "centre of gravity", which may be military assets but equally may be "public opinion and national will; or an alliance or coalition structure", and that—

    Success…is achieved through identifying and neutralising or destroying the enemy's centre of gravity, and identifying and protecting one's own. At the higher strategic level, one's own centre of gravity may be the cohesion of the alliance or coalition.[97]

63.  In his evidence to us during our Threat from Terrorism inquiry, the then Director General Joint Doctrine and Concepts, Major-General Tony Milton, highlighted the doctrinal challenge of dealing with the "psychological element" of the terrorist threat.[98] Discussing how to apply the "deep, close and rear operations" of conventional warfighting to the new circumstances,[99] he told us that—

    It is a little early to say, but that construct will actually serve us quite well in looking at counter-terrorist operations. The deep operations you can see going out, pre-empting, dealing with people before they have the capacity to mount an attack against you, or perhaps attacking them in transit. We will have a requirement for close operations. We will be dealing with terrorists head on, perhaps back in the UK, but we shall also have this responsibility of looking after the home base…Our instincts in conventional operations and in counter-terrorist operations tell us that the biggest pay-off is deep.[100]

We questioned whether this doctrine of "deep, close and rear" operations, derived as it is from manoeuvre warfare, would be flexible enough in the context of the present campaign against terrorism.

64.  The current Director General of the JDCC, Air Vice-Marshal Ian McNicoll told us of the key conceptual challenges that had faced the MoD since 11 September—

    The major changes that we are looking at in the conceptual area [are] how ideas such as network-enabled capability will affect things such as command and control in the future. These issues have not yet been fed into doctrine and will be in due course, but we are at the stage still of thinking about the implications of that.

    In terms of doctrine, I think it was enormously reassuring that even immediately after the shocking events of 11 September 2001 we were able to look at our top level publications and say (although not in any complacent way), "Yes, the enduring principles enunciated in these are still valid"…The Chief of the Defence Staff did that personally. The top level, the enduring principles, I think we are comfortable with. At the lower level tactical doctrine and the way that we are developing it…we are taking account of developments as we incorporate them.[101]

He confirmed that the manoeuvrist approach remained central to the British approach to warfare—

    The manoeuvrist approach is really at the heart of the UK approach to warfare or of the use of military force, which is to try and get inside the opponent's decision-making cycle. It is the attempt to have your ability to think through something and act before the opponent has the chance to do his thinking and acting as well. Our network-enabled capability undoubtedly offers the prospect of being able to do that more quickly.[102]

65.  British Defence Doctrine refers to this as the "OODA Loop", formulated by an American officer to explain how information can transform operations by speeding up the loop of Observing, Orientating, Deciding and Acting.[103] The SDR New Chapter's approach encapsulated in the phrase 'detect, decide, destroy' appears rather similar to the OODA loop approach and therefore rather 'old' conceptually, a point accepted by Air Vice-Marshal McNicoll in evidence to the Committee—

    I do not think there necessarily is a tremendous difference. It is an intellectual construct if you like for describing what we are talking about, which is going from a sensor through some sort of decision-making process which involves a decision maker through to what is called a shooter. "Detect, decide, destroy" is not much different from "Observe, orient, decide, act".[104]

66.  The head of SDR New Chapter Implementation, Mr Hugh Kernohan, argued that the New Chapter's approach was not actually a doctrine for warfare or campaigning at all—

    I think "detect, decide, destroy", which has something of the character of a slogan about it, is describing a single sequence of events and almost implicit in the label is the concept that there is a target that you can destroy. I do not think it is intended to be a description of a campaign or a means of warfare. The loop has the idea that you keep going round it. I think "detect, decide, destroy" is, if you like, a description of a distinct discrete sequence.[105]

'Detect, decide, destroy' appears to be merely the tactical application of the OODA loop concept. Furthermore, the use of term destroy in this connection is odd given the MoD's current focus on effects-based operations which suggest a more nuanced approach than that conjured-up by destroy. The term also fails to reflect the importance of post-conflict reconstruction. In this respect, then, the New Chapter may represent a relatively modest development of policy, potentially one so modest that it will not require any change to doctrine. Other concepts, however, may be more significant. One of these is asymmetry, not a new concept but one upon which a striking new light was thrown by the events of 11 September.

67.  Air Vice-Marshal McNicoll told us—

    The whole point of warfare is to try and play to your strengths and against your opponent's weaknesses and that applies to us as much as it might apply to potential opponents. That said, in the asymmetric situations that we find ourselves in at the moment, I think we have got a number of strengths. One of them of course is, as the Chief of the Defence Staff pointed out, integrated joint operations. The other is the sort of technology that we can bring to bear and the degree to which we can knit that together. I think that is lying at the heart of what we are talking about here with network-enabled capability. It is trying to get for us the asymmetric advantage.[106]

We explore the opportunities for the UK and her allies to develop such network-enabled capabilities (our asymmetric advantage) in Chapter 6. In discussing whether there was a robust understanding of asymmetry within MoD and amongst those who needed to understand the concept, Air Vice-Marshal McNicoll referred to the JDCC publication Joint Vision and told the Committee that—

    In the area of potential threats we have already recognised the increasing trend, particularly by non-state combatants, to use asymmetric attacks. We certainly understand that adversaries are likely to search out our weaknesses in order to undermine our own role…utilising high technology is something that we will continue to aspire to do in order to try to gain an asymmetric advantage. However, that dependence on higher technology is not the answer in all situations and the asymmetric actor will try and position himself in complex terrain, and by that I mean in urban situations or in jungle or in mountains where our high technology gives us less of an advantage, so that the possibility of a move towards high technology will drive our opponent to seek lower technology solutions which render our higher technology less effective.

    We have also in our thinking looked at the subject of protection of our forces and understand that with regard to protection of our networks in the future, for example, if you rely on a network it is a potential area of vulnerability. We also understand that we need to protect all our rear area to a greater extent given that the enemy is likely to adopt asymmetric means to attack that.[107]

68.  Joint Vision, however, is a classified document. Given its key role in setting out the MoD's understanding of the nature of asymmetry, we regret this. In the context of the war on terrorism, which involves a great many other agencies and outside bodies, its necessarily restricted circulation may reduce its effectiveness in disseminating the Armed Forces' understanding of the conceptual basis of the war on terror and how they see their part in it.

69.  Military doctrine for the campaign against international terrorism has a far longer history, stretching back through Britain's colonial past and developing a modern relevance out of the Northern Ireland experience since 1969.[108] There is no single, distinctive doctrinal contribution that has arisen from the events of 11 September 2001. Standard doctrine is reassessed at each appropriate level. At the military strategic level, the doctrine captures the fundamental principles that apply to counter terrorism. At the operational level the UK Ops Doc process covers all aspects of operations, including counter-terrorism, for senior commanders. At the tactical level, the Army's Field Manual deals with counter-terrorism and counter insurgency as part of the spectrum of normal operations, based in part on tactical procedures drawn from the Headquarters Land and Headquarters Northern Ireland commands.[109]

70.  Insofar as the military have a counter-terrorist role in home defence, the Government stresses that this must be led from Home departments rather than the MoD. There is, however, no doctrine of homeland defence as such. As Mr Kernohan pointed out, "A single national doctrine for homeland defence is not, I think, a concept that other people would recognise in those terms because they are military labels".[110] He told us—

    In one sense the outcome of, for example, the Civil Contingencies Bill, could be analogous in some ways to what in military terms is doctrine. Doctrine is a concept which means something within the military environment. It is not one that a policeman or an emergency planner in the National Health Service would necessarily recognise. That does not mean they do not do it but they may call it something different. Within our terms we are working on the doctrinal aspects of the military contributions, many of which are well established and will not change, in some of which, because we are expanding the capabilities, particularly in command and control and in the regional contingency planning, there is work going on that is being done within Land Command.[111]

For home defence, liaison for both concepts and practice still resides predominantly within the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, inside the Cabinet Office.[112]

Home Versus Away

71.  Nevertheless, the Secretary of State accepted that 11 September 2001 had changed the importance of the home defence role in MoD thinking—

72.  That "significant place" for the task of home defence and security translates in the New Chapter only into measures to improve liaison between the civil and military authorities with what is described as a "clearer role" for Headquarters, Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces,[114] as the principal focus for the provision of military assistance to civil authorities, joint regional liaison officers, and more staff in regional Brigade regions. However, in respect of military assistance to the civil authorities the New Chapter does not contemplate a greater role for the regular Armed Forces. Rather, it concludes that "there is a greater role for the Reserves to play".[115] As we have already noted, the SDR New Chapter's assessment of the balance between home and away operations is qualified by the fact that the consultation period on the MoD's proposals for a role for the Reserves in home defence extended beyond the publication of the New Chapter in July 2002. What has emerged therefore has the character of a steady and rather modest evolution of the doctrine of fighting at distance that was explicitly articulated in the original SDR.

73.  The Public Discussion Paper, published in February, noted that the Reserves' "wider geographical spread across the United Kingdom and associated local knowledge gives [them] a territorial focus and strength at the local and regional level" and asked "Are there additional or enhanced roles for our Reserve forces (both in home defence and security and in overseas operations)?"[116]

74.  The results of the separate consultation process on a role for the Reserves were announced to the House by the Minister for the Armed Forces, Rt Hon Adam Ingram MP, on 31 October 2002. They were essentially the same as had been proposed in the discussion paper in June—the establishment of a capability to provide assistance to the civil authorities on a regional basis in the event of a home defence incident, drawn from existing members of the volunteer reserves. This capability would take the form of 14 Civil Contingency Reaction Forces (CCRF), one for each of the Army brigade regions in the UK, each comprising 500 volunteers.

75.  But, as Mr Ingram made clear, these forces would not necessarily be the first to be called upon in the event of a terrorist incident—

    [The new arrangements] do not mean that we will use only volunteer reserves in this role. In future, as now, in the event of an incident, the regional commander will be able to judge which of the units at his disposal best match the needs of the authorities seeking support.[117]

This was confirmed by the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Lewis Moonie MP, who stated that: "Regular forces are likely to be the first choice because CCRFs are designed to cater for exceptional events".[118] The Secretary of State set out the limited nature of the proposals in evidence to the Committee—

    One of the New Chapter's innovations was a decision to give the Volunteer Reserves a civil contingencies role, as part of a possible request for assistance from the civil authorities. We are not creating a separate or self-contained force for this purpose. We are giving an extra role to existing Volunteer Reserves by allowing them to volunteer for the 14 regional civil contingencies reaction units. This provides a source of manpower to give commanders another option if the Armed Forces are asked for help, but it does not mean that these Reserves will always be called out or that regular units will not be used. We were also using Reserve posts to improve the mechanisms for contingency planning, liaison and command and control. They are essentially reinforcing what exists already, not creating a new or separate civil contingencies chain of command.[119]

76.  The new proposals would also involve the establishment of 280 new reserve posts in Army division and brigade headquarters, as well as 29 new reserve posts in each of the 14 brigade districts supporting the CCRF role directly, a total of almost 700 volunteer reserve posts.[120] The annual cost of the CCRF scheme is estimated to be £4.5 million, with start-up costs in 2002-03 of £2 million.[121] The total cost of the New Chapter's changes in this area is estimated at £60 million over four years.[122]

77.  Those individuals volunteering for CCRF duties are to receive five additional days training per year and all volunteer Reserves will receive two days additional training per year in civil support contingencies more generally. The MoD also decided that 2 (National Communications) Signals Brigade will be assigned the role of providing the communications infrastructure to support the regional command chain, with an interim capacity from the end of 2003, "although the achievement of a full national communications capability…will not be complete before 2006".[123]

    We expect to have an initial operating capability in place by the end of the year. We plan a regional full operating capability by 31 December next year, which will include all new posts recruited and filled, and all regional plans fully in place and tested. The complete capability will not be in place until 2006 when the new national communications infrastructure is fully deployed.[124]

78.  We welcome the establishment of the CCRFs, but remain concerned that the present approach to their deployment runs the risk of developing a capability which will then not be used other than when all regular resources are already committed and that this may in turn have a damaging effect on the morale of those who have volunteered and trained for the new CCRFs.

79.  We also welcome the steps to improve civil-military liaison capabilities across the 14 brigade districts through the establishments of the brigade reaction teams and note the decision to give the HQ Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces, a "clearer" role. Nevertheless, we regret that the MoD has not taken the opportunity afforded by the New Chapter process to think more innovatively about supporting home defence. We are also concerned that only an interim communications system will be available for their first three years. We do not believe that the MoD has adequately established the appropriate balance between operations at home and away, an issue that we believe is at the centre of the New Chapter process.

80.  It emerged from our work on the Defence and Security in the UK inquiry that what the civil authorities wanted from the Armed Forces, in the event of a terrorist attack or emergency, was a predictable resource to call upon. But, "because the military could not guarantee to be available, they could not include them in their plans at all".[125] The decision to create the CCRFs is a response to this requirement and does provide an element of certainty for civil emergency planners, who are now able to plan for reinforcement on the scale of a CCRF in each brigade region.

81.  However, a number of issues remain. As we noted—

    It is not clear to us how the MoD will ensure that the necessary skills and training for even these tasks [i.e. those set out for the CCRFs] are to be found in a volunteer reserve force of 500 persons per region and only 5 or 6 days training a year. The much more sophisticated tasks which our witnesses suggested they would actually look to the military to provide are even less likely to be available.[126]

82.  Another issue is the speed of response. The call out time for the availability of the full CCRF capability of 500 personnel remains somewhat vague. According to the MoD, within 24 hours of call-out the full CCRF would be available, but the numbers available at this stage would "realistically…be less than the full CCRF manning figure of 500 personnel" due to "sickness and so forth".[127] However, lead elements would be "available within a few hours".[128] These lead elements will, it appears, comprise command elements assessing likely tasks. As a representative of 145 Brigade told us—

    …with regard to the ability of the Civil Contingency Reaction Force to react…Although we have yet to prove it (some other Divisions have exercised this already) it is six hours for what is called the reconnaissance group, that is the commanding officer and his company commanders, to assess the task and think through the planning prior to issuing orders to troops, and it is anticipated that in 12 hours we would hope at least 100 people would be available.[129]

Witnesses to our Defence and Security in the UK inquiry indicated that they would be working to response times of minutes not hours.[130]

83.  Furthermore, in predicting what numbers would be available, the MoD could face the challenge of a relatively low rate of members of the volunteer Reserves being ready for call up, or "fit for role" (FFR). Under the SDR the FFR was set at only 55%. As the Council of the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations told us—

    The general assumption is we are talking of something around 60/70 per cent FFR, fit for role. That is the general assumption that is made for planning purposes…under SDR, there was only a requirement to be at the 55 per cent…The TA is not required to be 100 per cent ready for activity. That was one of the direct consequences of SDR…[131]

84.  There are also wide discrepancies around the UK in recruitment by the volunteer Reserves which may prove a significant challenge to the MoD in creating the 14 regional CCRFs. In one of the most critical CCRF brigade regions—145 Brigade district based in Aldershot—recruitment of volunteers to the CCRF had reached some 300 by March 2003.[132] Colonel Richard Putnam from the Council of Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations suggested that the inability to recruit the full complement in each district might lead to regulars being called upon to make up the numbers, which is clearly not what was intended in the New Chapter—

    …there is no way that the Territorial Army or other territorial reserves in some areas will get to 500, because there are not 500 people fully trained on the ground to form the unit, so the brigade command will have to deploy full time service troops depending on circumstances. What we do not know and nobody will know until it actually happens is what they are going to be asked to do. It might just be a simple cordon around a small area; it might be picking up bits of stone and boulders—we simply do not know, but we do not want to kid ourselves, there will not be 14 times 500 or 7,000 troops on 6 or 12 hours standby at any one time of the day or night.[133]

85.  If the CCRFs are to be the predictable element for the civil authorities (even if the regulars are likely to be the first to be called upon), the concerns we raised in our Defence and Security in the UK report remain valid. The MoD's list of possible tasks for the Reaction Forces includes "reconnaissance, assistance with mass casualties, site search and clearance, transport and communications, the operation of water and feeding points, control and co-ordination functions, access control, the control of movement of large numbers of the public, guarding or other tasks at the request of the civil police".[134] Some of these clearly require more specialist skills and training than others. We are concerned that accurate data on the numbers recruited, their skills and their availability for call out are still to be provided.

86.  We are also concerned that too little thought has gone into the implications of the establishment of the CCRFs in each region for the normal activities of the volunteer Reserve nationally. There is a risk that those volunteering for the CCRFs may be some of the most motivated individuals in the standing volunteer Reserve units and if they are deployed on CCRF duties the fit for role percentage for their home units may then drop below 55%. In other words will the 500 members of the CCRFs in each region be part of the 55% FFR of normal units? We seek assurances from the MoD in their reply to this report that the Fit For Role figures for the CCRF elements in each brigade region will not be the same as for the volunteer Reserves as a whole.

87.  Overall, we have seen little evidence that the MoD has taken seriously the need to rethink the capacity of the Armed Forces to provide predictable support to the task of home defence in the event of a mass-effect terrorist attack in the UK.

92   SDR NC Vol 2, para 62. Back

93   Since publication of the SDR New Chapter, this doctrinal work has resulted in a new JDCC publication on the topic Ministry of Defence, Countering Terrorism: the UK Approach to the Military Contribution, March 2003.  Back

94   Qq 544-564 Back

95   Ministry of Defence, JWP 0-01, British Defence Doctrine, 2nd Ed, October 2001, Ch 3. Back

96   Ibid, p 3.4. Back

97   Ibid p 3.6. Back

98   HC (2001-02) 348-II, Q 18. Back

99   HC (2001-02) 348-II, Q 51. Back

100   Ibid Back

101   Q 566 Back

102   Q 582 Back

103   British Defence Doctrine, p3-5, p 3-6. Back

104   Q 572. See para 20. Back

105   Q 575 Back

106   Q 603 Back

107   Q 604 Back

108   Qq 606-607 Back

109   Q 608 Back

110   Q 611 Back

111   Q 611 Back

112   Q 612 Back

113   Q 695 Back

114   SDR NC Vol 1, para 79. Back

115   SDR NC Vol 1, para 81. Back

116   Public Discussion Paper, paras 25 and 26. Back

117   HC Deb, 31 October 2002, col 1026. Back

118   HC Deb, 31 October 2002, col 1102. Back

119   Q 624 Back

120   HC Deb, 31 October 2002, cols 1023-1027. Back

121   HC Deb, 18 Mar 2003, col 625W. Back

122   HC Deb, 30 April 2003, col 391W. Back

123   HC Deb, 31 October 2002, col 1027. Back

124   HC Deb, 31 October 2002, col 1027. Back

125   HC (2001-02) 518-I, para, 227. Back

126   HC (2001-02) 518-I, para 232. Back

127   HC (2002-03) 557-ii, Q 215, fn. Back

128   Reserves Discussion Paper, para 18. Back

129   HC (2002-03) 557-ii, Q 219. Back

130   HC (2001-02) 518-I, para 227. Back

131   Q 231 Back

132   HC (2002-03) 557-ii, Q 215. Back

133   Q 252 Back

134   Reserves Discussion Paper, para 17. Back

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