The work of the Committee 2007-08 - Defence Committee Contents

5  Looking Ahead

61.  In October 2008 we held a horizon-scanning seminar at the Defence Academy, Shrivenham, to discuss our programme of work for the next year. We were accompanied by our Specialist Advisers, a number of key academics, Ministry of Defence officials, and senior ex-servicemen who were invited to take part in discussions. We were pleased that the MoD agreed to accommodate us at the Defence Academy and we are grateful to Academy staff at all levels for their assistance in making our seminar a success, and for their valuable contribution to our discussions. We hope very much to make seminars of this sort at Shrivenham an annual event. As a result of our seminar we issued a press notice announcing our programme of inquiries for the first half of 2009.

62.  Our programme for the 2008-09 session starts with the culmination of our inquiries into the MoD's Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08 and Defence Equipment. We then intend to investigate a series of related areas of the MoD's policy and activity in order better to establish: (1) what is the current state of the Armed Forces, in terms of current readiness and capability; and (2) how the MoD must act to ensure that the Armed Forces have the proper training, organisation and capabilities for likely future challenges.

63.  The Committee intends to make use of the MoD's Balanced Scorecard, issued with the Defence Plan for 2008-12, to sequence its inquiries throughout the 2008-09 Session and relate them to the MoD's own assessment of its priorities. The MoD's Defence Board uses the Balanced Scorecard to assess Departmental progress: our use of the Balanced Scorecard will enable the Board better to see how our work relates to its own analysis. The Balanced Scorecard will also assist us in ensuring greater focus and relevance for our own assessment of the MoD and the Armed Forces.

64.  This series of inquiries will begin in January 2009 with a brief examination of the Defence Support Group (DSG) and the progress made since the amalgamation of ABRO and DARA and the formal launch of the DSG on 1 April 2008. After concluding our current inquiry into UK national security and resilience, we will start an inquiry into Readiness and recuperation for the contingent tasks of today, which aims to analyse levels of preparedness in the Armed Forces in terms of equipment, manpower, training and sustainability for any new and immediate challenges. We also intend to hold a one-off evidence session with the Service Complaints Commissioner. The next inquiry will be an examination of UK, EU and NATO relations with Russia, which will take account of recent events in the Caucasus within the context of our continuing interest in NATO and ESDP matters. Subsequent inquiries are planned into: current and future helicopter capability; a second assessment of ISTAR issues, with a focus on network-enabled capability (NEC) and the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII); and the strengths and weaknesses of the Comprehensive Approach, drawing on lessons that can be learned from experiences in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

65.  We will continue to be ready to react to events as they unfold and adapt our programme as required. We will also continue our core inquiries into the MoD's Main and Supplementary Estimates.

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