1 Introduction |
Strategy without tactics is the slowest route
to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
1. On 26th May this year, the Rt Hon William Hague
MP, Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary told the House of Commons:
This Government reject the idea of strategic shrinkage.
We believe that this would be to retreat as a nation at the moment
when a more ambitious approach is required.
Later, in July, in the first of four major speeches,
he proposed "a distinctive British Foreign Policy that
extends our global reach and influence". He claimed that
"the previous government had neglected to lift its eyes to
the wider strategic needs of this country, to take stock of British
2. He said that the Strategic Defence and Security
Review, "will be a fundamental reappraisal of Britain's
place in the world and how we operate within it". He
continued: "the increasingly multipolar world [
] that we must become more active".
In what he called "our new Government's vision
of foreign affairs", he concluded:
So we are raising our sights for the longer term,
looking at the promotion of British interests in the widest sense.
In the coming months, we will develop a national strategy for
advancing our goals in the world [
3. This is the context in which we decided to hold
an inquiry into, "Who does UK Grand Strategy?" in order
to provide a fresh appraisal of the qualities of strategic thinking
in government and any recommendations for improvements.
4. PASC's 2007 inquiry on 'Governing the Future'
examined strategic thinking within government. That report noted
Future thinking is an uncertain business. Strategies
should be kept under review so that they take account of new information
and developments in research. Willingness to adjust policy in
light of new evidence or changing circumstances should be seen
as a sign of strength, not of weakness.
5. The previous Government published the first National
Security Strategy in March 2008, followed by a second a year later.
One of the first acts of the new Government was to establish a
National Security Council (NSC). An early priority for the NSC
has been to oversee the development of a new version of the National
Security Strategy alongside a Strategic Defence and Security Review
6. However, concerns continue to be expressed, publicly
and strongly, that the UK has long since lost both the ability
to articulate its national interests and the capacity to think
strategically about how to meet them. In
a lecture delivered last December, the then Chief of the Defence
Staff (CDS), Sir Jock Stirrup, drew particular attention to the
fact that, in his view, the UK has "lost an institutionalised
capacity for, and culture of, strategic thought".
Whilst acknowledging that the UK did have people who could think
strategically, Sir Jock considered that we had become "hunter-gatherers
of strategic talent, rather than nurturers and husbandmen".
He went on to explain how this lack of strategic thought made
it much more difficult for us to formulate strategy to deal with
problems in today's rapidly-changing world, and just how important
it was to re-create the culture of strategic thought within Whitehall.
7. The implications
of the CDS's judgement should be worrying for the whole of government
and his concern is one of the main reasons for our inquiry.
This report examines:
what the term 'strategy' means; how it should be made, sustained,
challenged and adapted; and whether the Government has the capacity
and the skills to do so.
8. We took oral evidence from the Rt Hon William
Hague, the Foreign Secretary and the Rt Hon Baroness Neville-Jones,
the Security Minister as well as key senior officials including
Sir Peter Ricketts, the National Security Adviser and Sir Jock
Stirrup, the then Chief of the Defence Staff. We also heard from
former officers involved in strategic planning, Sir Robert Fry
and Steven Jermy and three eminent historians in this field, Professors
Peter Hennessy, Hew Strachan and Julian Lindley-French. We also
hosted an expert seminar with participation from government, the
military, academia and the corporate world. We received twelve
memoranda. We would like to thank all those who gave evidence
as well as to our specialist adviser on this inquiry, Chris Donnelly.
1 HC Deb, 26 May 2010, col 174 Back
Britain's Foreign Policy in a Networked World, 1 July 2010
, http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=Speech&id=22472881. Back
Public Administration Select Committee, Second Report of Session
2006-07, Governing the Future, HC 123-I Back
Cabinet Office, The National Security Strategy of the United
Kingdom: Security in an Interdependent World, Cm. 7291, March
2008 and Cabinet Office, Security of the Next Generation:The
National Security Strategy of the United Kingdom: Update 2009,
Cm 7590, June 2009 Back
Annual Chief of the Defence Staff Lecture, 3 December 2009, http://www.rusi.org/cdslectures