Saturday, 19 September 2020
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CSIS

The following is a transcript of the full speech given by the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff

Two weeks ago was a busy week for the UK government, with the publication of three key documents. On the Monday we published our new national Security Strategy. Tuesday was the document we're here to talk about today the Strategic Defence and Security Review. And Wednesday was the Spending Review which sets budgets for all government departments. Taken together these three documents represent three of the essential elements of strategy: the policy ambition (on Monday) the military capability (on Tuesday) and the financial resources (on Wednesday). The fourth essential element is that the three are in coherent balance (but that is not the work of a single day).

Indeed, to me, the maintenance of that coherence between policy ambition, financial resource and military capability is the art of strategy. Because coherence is not the natural state of things. The fundamental elements of strategy are more like helicopter flight inherently unstable needing constant recalibration. So our SDSR is a start point not a finish.

Some have accused the UK government of having conducted a somewhat rushed process. I do not hold to that. The UK Ministry of Defence has been preparing the intellectual ground work for a Defence Review certainly for the past two years Particularly with work on Global Strategic Trends and Future Character of Conflict.

We also recognised that the military instrument of national power entered a strategic review in a difficult or more accurately vulnerable position. I say this for 3 reasons.

First, the UK fiscal position was acute. And the government's determination to close the fiscal deficit in a single parliamentary term added to the challenge of curbing government spending.

Second, an existential threat to the UK in hard defence terms seems increasingly unlikely. The SDSR, therefore, correctly conflates defence and security for the first time. And many correctly question the relevance of some of our traditional military capabilities.

But third and I would doubt that this is a particularly British condition the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan have bequeathed an immediate legacy of political caution and societal nervousness over the purposes to which the military instrument of National Power has been most recently been put.

The British are in one of our typically ambiguous mindsets where our Armed Forces have never been held at least recently in such high regard but the purpose to which they have been put has never been so seriously questioned.

So, the military instrument of National Power entered our Defence Review in a vulnerable position with many in the Whitehall village viewing it as big, dangerous, expensive, and attended by unforeseen consequences.

Given that context I believe that defence has emerged from the process remarkably well. Its resource position has been defended. Its utility to the strategic context is actively being reshaped. And the political context for its utility has significantly matured.

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How to Evaluate the Effectiveness and Credibility of a Defining Test of Obama's Leadership - By Anthony H. Cordesman

President Obama must now make a decision that will define his presidency. President Obama will have to take personal responsibility for the outcome of the war in Afghanistan, betting his historical reputation and second term on the outcome.

At the same time, far more is at stake than the President's reputation. Once the President's choices are put into action it is unlikely that events will offer another chance to reinvent the US approach to the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The situation is too critical, the need for action too critical, and support for the war too uncertain.

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By Joachim Hofbauer

The European defence market is undergoing profound changes. Four distinct trends are altering the landscape of European defence acquisition, with some of them underscoring the shift of defence matters from national capitals towards the European Union (EU). First, participation in international operations is substantially affecting acquisition priorities. Second, this change on the demand side expands the defence market to a broader range of companies, which are not traditional defence firms. Third, the EU is displaying a rejuvenated commitment to consolidate its fragmented defence market. Fourth, US efforts to reform export control regulations will considerably impact the supply decisions for European defence acquisition. A key question is how the combination of these trends will influence the transatlantic defence market and industry

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by Brad Glosserman

The United States has scaled back plans to deploy a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. While that decision reflects a new assessment of the Iranian threat to Europe, most attention is being paid to its impact on relations with Russia. But the decision has equally important implications for Asia. It underscores two critical facts: first, the notion of discrete "theaters" is a fiction; second, the U.S. has to closely engage its Asian allies as it develops its strategic doctrine.

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by Jaeho Hwang

The regional security dynamic surrounding the Korean Peninsula is in flux. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton trekked to Pyongyang to free the two captive journalists, creating for the first time since the North's May nuclear test an atmosphere conducive to dialogue. But Seoul has security concerns surpassing those of North Korea, including all of Northeast Asia and greater Asia, both in the short- and long-term. Here, I will lay out the future of the ROK-U.S. alliance amidst turbulent change in the security environment.

Read more...  
 

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