Tuesday, 28 February 2017
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Up-to-the-minute perspectives on defence, security and peace
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Interviews

Two weeks ago, two top Republican advisers on the military to the Trump campaign talked to reporters from Defense News to provide some insight into what a Trump election might mean for defense and Trump's plans for the Pentagon. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been widely mentioned as the leading candidate to become secretary of defense. Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee, will be out of a job in January, having been defeated in his primary election. But Forbes is widely respected for his knowledge of naval affairs and could be a contender to become secretary of the Navy. Highlights from the interviews are on the next page

In a failed attempt to capture Paris attacker Saleh Abdesalem, investigators in Belgium seized about 10 hours of video footage of the residence of an executive who worked at a nearby nuclear power facility. Belgian experts were able to say with confidence that the footage was taken by a clandestine, unmanned fixed camera hidden in a wooded area near the executive's home, but off his property.

Later investigation after the Brussels bombings determined that the surveillance had been conducted by one or both of Brussels suicide bombers, Khalid and Ibrahim Bakraoui. Some analysts believe the video footage must have been part of pre-operational surveillance for a planned attempt to place the executive under duress in a "tiger kidnapping" scenario to force him to give the terrorists access to the facility or to radioactive materials.

Trevor Taylor is Professorial Research Fellow in Defence Management at the Royal United Services Institute in London (RUSI). In this guise he oversees RUSI’s work on defence, industry and society. He recently spoke to Nick Watts about some of the defence acquisition questions which will need to be considered during and after the forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
 
Taylor points out that the Government has signalled no appetite for reduced international political ambition in the 2015 SDSR. He doesn’t expect to see a major change in the amount of funding committed to defence. Ministers have signalled that the MOD will be expected to contribute towards the UK’s economic growth (via exports); if the economy grows, then the 2% GDP spend on defence will be worth more.

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