143. The original SDR was published more than
three years before al Qaeda attacked New York and Washington on
11 September 2001. The world did not stand still in those three
years. We are now 20 months on from 11 September and much has
changed over that time too.
144. In the New Chapter the MoD attempted to
assess the implications of the threat from international terrorism
for the Armed Forces. This was not a new threat but 11 September
brought home its reality and urgency in a uniquely dramatic and
145. At the same time, however, the MoD emphasised
that it was not embarking on a review of the SDR as a whole. The
New Chapter was to be exactly thatan addition to existing,
still valid, policy in order to address a specific additional
threat. In theory at least this appears to be a logical approach.
Furthermore any fundamental reappraisal of the SDR itself would
have been both hugely more time-consuming and, given that many
elements of the SDR are still in the process of implementation,
might have seriously disrupted current planning.
146. But the MoD's chosen approach has made the
New Chapter process untidy. Many of the developments in fields
as apparently far apart as doctrine and equipment, which are discussed
in the New Chapter in the context of counter-terrorist operations,
have a wider relevance to other types of military operations.
This is particularly true in the complex and rapidly-moving area
of Network-Enabled Capability. A policy paper on what these developments
mean only in the context of counter-terrorist operation risks
appearing perversely narrow in scope. At the very least, by trying
to avoid the broader picture, the New Chapter has in fact served
to draw attention to the many areas where developments since 1998
are making the SDR look increasingly out of date. We have been
told that these gaps will be filled by the Defence Policy White
Paper which is to be published this autumn. That, in our view,
will be a major challenge, particularly as the lessons from the
conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq will have to be absorbed. We
await that publication with interest.