The UK's national security machinery Contents



1 Introduction

2 The National Security Council: how—and how effectively—does it operate?

A brief introduction to the NSC and its machinery

What is on the NSC’s agenda?

How is the NSC distinguished from other ministerial committees?

The role of the Prime Minister as Chair

The role of the National Security Adviser as Secretary

Who attends the NSC?

How are the NSC’s decisions funded?

How are the NSC’s decisions implemented?

How does the NSC serve the whole of the UK?

Conclusion: What next for the NSC?

Should the NSC be placed on a statutory footing?

3 What does the NSC need to fulfil its role effectively?

Building the NSC’s understanding

Long-term thinking and testing assumptions

Analytical capabilities and warning functions

Use of open-source information

Counteracting groupthink: diversity of thought and use of challenge

Robust risk management processes

Utility of the National Security Risk Assessment

Central governance and oversight: three lines of defence model

A national security profession

Training for Ministers

Transparency and accountability

The role of the UK Parliament and parliamentary scrutiny

4 The NSC and Afghanistan

Understanding Afghanistan and planning for the withdrawal of NATO troops

Annex 1: An introduction to the 2021 Integrated Review

Annex 2: High-level summary of reserved and devolved powers relevant to national security

Annex 3: Acronyms and abbreviations

Conclusions and recommendations

Formal minutes

Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy


Published written evidence

List of Reports from the Committee during the current Parliament

Published: 19 September 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement