1 Introduction |
1. In July 2014, we decided to conduct an inquiry
into decision-making in defence policy, including an examination
of the relationships between Ministers, officials and the military.
We set out to understand the current state of decision-making
processes within the MoD, and to assess whether changes needed
to be made.
2. The inquiry was framed in the following terms:
are the processes for decision-making in Defence policy? What
are the strengths and weaknesses of these processes?
is the relationship between Ministers and their advisers, the
military and civil servants defined?
have processes for decision-making and the relationship between
Ministers and their advisers, the military and civil servants
changed over the last 10 years?
· Is there
a case for codifying the relationship?
pressures have been placed on this relationship in the last 10
years by changes in the Government's relations with the media?
effect has the House of Commons vote on intervention in Syria
had on this relationship?
makes the decisions on the deployment of UK troops on combat and
3. We received six written submissions, and held
six oral evidence sessions, with 11 panels. We decided to investigate
defence decision-making by investigating two case studies: firstly,
the decision to deploy forces to Helmand Province in Afghanistan
in 2006, and the deployment into Northern Helmand later in 2006;
and secondly, decisions surrounding the aircraft carriers, procured
by the MoD to replace the three Invincible class carriers. The
first, second and fourth evidence sessions focused on decision-making
in Afghanistan, whilst the third session looked at decisions about
the design of the aircraft carriers in 1998 and 2010.
4. During our evidence sessions, it became evident
that the National Security Council ('NSC') was being posited as
a way of counteracting the weaknesses that had plagued defence
decision-making, and we decided, therefore, that our fifth session
would focus on the effectiveness of the NSC. We took evidence
from two former members of the NSC, who were able to provide us
with first-hand accounts of the inner workings of this relatively
new decision-making structure. We also discussed the impact of
the 2011 Levene reforms, with a particular focus on the impact
on the Chiefs of Staff. During the sixth and final evidence session,
we took evidence from the Secretary of State for Defence, the
Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach,
Vice Chief of Defence Staff, and Peter Watkins, Director General
Security Policy. We would like to thank all the contributors to
this inquiry, and emphasise that their time, effort and expertise
were very much appreciated.
5. For the purpose of clarity, we shall use the following
definitions of the levels of defence decision-making:
Strategic'the responsibility of Her Majesty's Governmentis
the national political level that sets the government policy on
international issues, in effect national aims in peace and war
that strategy is to deliver.
Strategic'the responsibility of the Ministry of Defenceis
the highest military level, developing, sustaining and assigning
military forces to support government policy and achieve goals
set at the Grand Strategic level.
responsibility of the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ)planning
military campaigns and deploying forces to achieve the strategic
objectives set by the MoD.
responsibility of Field Commanders or Component Commandersdirecting
operations on the ground, at sea and in the air.
United Kingdom recently replaced the term 'Grand Strategy' with
'National Strategy', defining it as National Strategy directs
the coordinated application of the instruments of national power
(diplomatic, economic and military) in the pursuit of national
3 Defence Committee, Error! Bookmark not defined.,
16 September 2014 Back
Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, The Royal College of Defence
Studies, Error! Bookmark not defined., October 2010, p 7 Back