The U.K. Ministry of Defense and the Foreign and Commonwealth office developed a new international defense engagement strategy describing how all defense activity–except combat operations–will focus on countries most important for the U.K.’s national interest.
The government has made about $9.4 million available for the strategy by reprioritizing existing budgets.
“The publication of the international defense engagement strategy will help the U.K. to work more effectively to deliver our foreign policy objectives, delivering an integrated approach drawing on all of the levers of power across the government,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
The Strategy, published Feb. 7, sets out how non-operational defense assets and activities will in the future be allocated to better contribute to wider government objectives and goals.
The Strategy details four pillars of defense: defense diplomacy, support to operations, exports and building stability.
Already, some actions have been taken that are examples of the new strategy: establishing a Defense Attaché and Defense Section in the British Embassy in Burma; recently opening a Defense Section in Juba, South Sudan; and working more closely with Libya, including advice for training its military–especially the navy and air force–and helping establish bomb disposal and defense language schools.
Also, a new Defense Section is to be set up in the new British Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia.
The MoD is also exploring ways of using Army capabilities on a wider range of defense engagement tasks and will use this as a pilot as the Army restructures its Adaptable Force Brigades as part of Army 2020.
Under Army 2020, the 102,000-soldier regular army will drop to 82,000, and the Air Force, Navy, and the civilian workforce also face cuts.
The United States is working on a similar path, facing draconian budget cuts, an uncertain operating environment, and reduction of service forces. Defense engagement is of great interest and focus of effort. For example, the U.S. Army is moving to regionally aligned forces.
The point is for Britain to develop relationships and influence over a 20-year horizon.
“This strategy is welcome at a time of limited financial resources, providing a means to focus our assets and activities such that we can make an even greater contribution to securing a safe and prosperous future for the U.K.,” Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said.
Here is a link to the new report.