2 SCALES OF EFFORT AND CONCURRENCY
16. Although as we noted above, the debate on the
Future Capabilities proposals has been dominated by arguments
about numbers and costs, the proposals are, at least in theory,
simply the practical expression of the conclusions set out in
Delivering Security. Underpinning those conclusions are
the defence planning and concurrency assumptions. As General Sir
Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, told us:
There has to be some sort of intellectual yardstick
against which the defence effort is judged, and that stems of
course from the defence planning assumptions
You may not
agree with them, that is another matter, but it is from those
assumptions that the force structure is calculated as laid out
at the back of the White Paper.
They are set out in Supporting Essay 2 of Delivering
Security. Central to them are the 'Revised Scales of Effort'.
17. In 1998 the Scales of Effort in the SDR required
of the Armed Forces the capability to mount one large (ie of a
similar scale to the force sent to the 1991 Gulf War) or two medium
operations (one similar to the then commitment to Bosnia; the
other of a combat brigade and supporting elements). In December
2003 the Revised Scales of Effort required the capability to mount,
without overstretch, one medium and two small operations (the
medium and one small being peace support operations, the other
small being an intervention operation) but with the ability also
to reconfigure rapidly to two medium and one small (where one
of the mediums is an intervention operation).
18. A large scale operation would still be possible
'given time to prepare' and on the assumption that 'we will not
need to generate large scale capabilities across the [full] spectrum,
given that in the most demanding operations we will be operating
alongside the US and other allies, where capabilities such as
air defence and naval escorts are less likely to be at a premium'.
19. Alongside these assumptions was a greater focus
on capabilities for expeditionary operations (which had been a
central conclusion of the June 2002 New Chapter to the SDR)
and on 'the importance of the continued transformation of our
forces to concentrate on the characteristics of speed, precision,
agility, deployability, reach and sustainability'.
'At the heart of this transformation is Network Enabled Capability
is about the coherent integration of sensors,
decision-makers and weapon systems along with support capabilities'.
We discuss some of the specific capabilities which are integral
to NEC later in this report.
20. The MoD arrived at the assumptions on the basis
of its assessment of the international security challenges which
the UK will face in the years ahead. Again we examined this assessment
in our report on Delivering Security. Two conclusions from
that report are worth repeating here:
What has emerged in the past six years is the
extent to which the Armed Forces have been operating at the limits
of what they can achieve. The SDR's planning assumptions provided
relatively little resilience to enable the services to re-orientate
when called upon to do so.
It may be rash of the White Paper to state that
"we expect to see a similar pattern of operations in the
future", just after its predecessor documentthe SDRhas
had to be substantially amended, not least because unforeseen
developments in the security environment have led to changes in
operational demands. We are not convinced that expecting things
to follow a similar pattern to the recent past is the best way
to shape UK defence policy in an era of rapid change.
21. To the extent that defence plans cannot be expected
to foresee every future contingency and defence budgets cannot
fund unlimited force numbers or capabilities, any decisions on
force structures or on capabilities must accept elements of risk.
Nonetheless in our conclusions quoted above we identified two
broad areas of potential risk from the MoD's policy analysis:
a lack of resilience in the face of changing operational demands
and too narrow a focus on the range of operational demands which
the Armed Forces of the future may face. In this report we intend
to look more closely at how the Future Capabilities proposals
have addressed those areas of risk.
8 Q 367 Back
Cm 6041-I, p 7 Back
Cm 6269, p 2 Back
Cm 6269, p 5 Back
HC (2003-04) 465-I, para 37 Back
HC (2003-04) 465-I, para 42 Back