Posts Tagged ‘21st century defence’

Why Britain needs a new defence strategy

22/02/2012, 02:13:20 PM

by Jim Murphy

The driving focus of the shadow defence team is to develop a defence policy fit for modern times, responsive to a dramatically changing world which enables us to maintain a position of global influence.

That is why today we have published a consultation paper, ‘21st Century Defence’, to launch the shadow defence review.

Defence is important to Labour for two reasons. First, defence must be the first duty of any government and therefore also the first duty of any party aspiring to govern. Our credibility as an alternative government relies on our credibility on defence.

Second, the Arab spring is the tip of the iceberg of the change we are likely to experience over the next decade.  New and emerging threats, from cyber to bioterrorism, demand new policy responses.  Constrained fiscal circumstances due to the downturn limit expenditure and potentially our global reach.

Global trends – from climate change to new economies – are creating new threats and recasting the global power balance.  These trends come amidst the immediate pressures and priorities of stabilisation in Afghanistan, countering extremism, preventing proliferations and confronting the fresh turmoil in the Middle East. There is massive potential for disruption.

In that context Britain needs a defence policy which can keep up. It must be flexible and agile, with new and wide-ranging capabilities. It must prioritise coalition-building, be attuned to the threats and trends of the future and co-ordinate defence with development and diplomacy.

The government’s rushed review fell short. It did not match ends with means, precipitated a strategic shrinkage by stealth and left us with dangerous capability gaps.  Libyan operations succeeded in spite of the defence review.  Tough decisions must be made – we have been clear about that – but we disagree with some of the decisions and the manner in which they were taken. There is more than one way to spend an annual defence budget of almost £35bn. Labour is committed to being fiscally responsible and true to our own progressive principles.

We need a new defence strategy consistent with financial circumstances but also with strategic context.  Lasting more than a year, this consultation is open to all military, industrial and academic figures, all parties and the general public.


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