Since the Spanish Armada, the Royal Navy has been Britain’s first line of defence and offence. Today is no different, and yet the RN has been run down by two decades of defence cuts to within an inch of its effective life. Simultaneously, there is currently a revolution in naval affairs taking place in the expanding navies of the world that represents a significant rising threat to Britain's national security. So, the question has to be asked; is the Royal Navy ready to enable the aspirations and imperatives of a new Global Britain? Alarmingly the answer is a resounding no.
Britain's Defence Forces
During the arms race in the late thirties, Britain and the Royal Navy did all they could to ensure that the nation preserved its naval dominance over Germany. However, there were a few anomalies.
Although Britain’s Intelligence Services have continued to receive relatively generous funding over the past decade from an absolute spending perspective, it would appear that our capability does not match the expanding multiple threats, especially in the cyber domain, but also in the traditional Intelligence Services with three major threats requiring ongoing monitoring: the Islamic fundamentalism, Russia and China.
Breaking the Code of History proposed that predatory nations in expansion behave much like animal predators in that they prefer to attack the weakest prey to limit any potential damage to themselves, which ultimately could be life threatening. So how would such a power view the West and Britain in the light of our track record in the last two decades? Britain’s security record is entwined with that of America, Britain's closest ally in this risk assessment:
Historically, democracies have not been good at anticipating rising aggressor nations and preparing a commensurately strong defence. Furthermore, there is a long-established trend (that is not unique to the UK only) of preparing for the last war rather than anticipating the next, and its change in nature. Consequently, the 2015 Strategice Defence Review has built-in limitations and flaws that are of an institutional nature and repeat the errors of the past centuries’ military planning.
Losses due to lack of preparedness at the Somme
Human affairs are all about balancing our relationships, both on a personal level and geopolitically between nations. Changes to the equilibrium always have consequences for a relationship, some benign, and some far-reaching with at times dramatic and destructive results. In this ever dynamic process the key to maintaining harmony is to recognise and evaluate the nature of such shifts and to strive constantly to find ways to redress and maintain that crucial balance. To fail to recognise such threats risks the extinction of whole cultures.
The following series of blogs has been extracted from my recent paper "A new model for Britain's Defence Forces". If you would like a free copy please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.