In 2015, appalled by the government's defence review that effectively emasculated the UK’S armed forces despite the obvious rising threats from China and Russia, I published my A new Model for Britain's Defence Forces. Five years later, with no change in the Government’s view despite the acceleration of the threats posed to Britain, I started the thought leadership campaign to influence the UK government's perception of Defence with numerous Murrinations covering the rising threats from China and Russia, evolving revolutionary weapons systems and historical strategic lessons from history directly applicable to today's geopolitical dynamics. All of these are available in one consolidated document Now Or Never; The Global Forecaster 2020 Strategic Defence Review Appendices.
The centrepiece is my Now Or Never The Global Forecaster UK Strategic Defence Review2020 released a month ago before the Official Government Defence Review was due to be published and specifically written to be read by the Prime Minister. The objective was to catalyse a watershed shift in government and the national mindset to shape a new defence outcome. Through multiple avenues The Now or Never Report reached No10, the MOD and the Treasury.
Boris' Defence Of The Realm Announcement
In My Murrination Vision Britain, 2025 Go Bold Or Go Home I encouraged Boris to follow some key bold strategies. To his great credit, he has delivered with his announcement two weeks ago, which came out of the blue and used all of the arguments and language in the Now or Never Report. This came as a pleasant surprise and I suspect was no coincidence. In a welcome move Boris reversed almost 30 years of the diminishment of the armed forces by announcing a turning point that begins the process of facing off against Russia and China. Much as Hitler's re-occupation of the Rhineland in March 1936 catalysed a massive increase in UK defence spending after years of diminishment, similarly the annexation of Hong Kong triggered today's shift. Boris's main commitments were as follows.
- To affirm the prime responsibility of government is the defence of the realm (affirming our below Petition)
- Refocussing defence strategy commensurate with the post-Brexit return to a global maritime paradigm
- To restore Britain to the foremost naval power in Europe
- Ensuring the current warship building program is executed and the UK shipbuilding industry is expanded in Northern Ireland and Scotland, boosting the Union
- Linking the investment and development of the industrial military complex with the creation of 40,000 new jobs that will stimulate growth
- A four-year funding deal based on the pre-Covid GDP and an additional £16.5 Billion. This amounts to a 10% increase on the 2019 Defence budget over four years
- To implement a generational upgrade in national defence capabilityincluding:
- Greater cross-service combat integration.
- The creation of a National Cyber Force to deploy a new offensive national cyber capability derived from MI6, GCHQ and the defence and science laboratory
- A new RAF Space Command
- An agency focused on Artificial Intelligence
- The Royal Navy will get their 8 ASW Type 26's and 6 general purpose Type 31's and start to design the Type 32 frigate
- Support ships to replenish the carrier groups at sea
- An increase in military R&D budget by £1.5Bn to £5.8Bn
- Ongoing support for the BAE Tempest Fighter program
- The focus on deploying direct energy weapons such as lasers and microwave weapons
Too Little Too Late
This announcement is a key turning point as it expounds a new national post-Brexit strategy concerning the importance of defence in our new global maritime expansion. However, after years of allowing our capabilities to go into almost terminal decline we will need to dedicate far greater resources to ensure we can deter aggression from China and Russia within the 5 year timeframe suggested from our commodity cycles when we face the risk of WW3 breaking out. Britain will need to spend at least 5% of GDP per annum (£100Bn) to build the most modern weapons and deploy them with sufficient mass to be credible. To put this in context the pandemic will have cost us approximately £550Bn with no tangible returns. If spent on defence this would have secured our position as the second-most powerful navy in the world, allowing rapid, lucrative trade deals and huge global influence that would have accelerated national annual GDP by 5 to 10 times the initial investment.
What matters is not that we are the biggest Western European naval power, but that we are big enough to deter Russia and China from attempting to attack, as well as being able to maintain global sea lanes and protect our island. The lessons highlighted in my Now or Never conclusion cannot be repeated enough. Due to the policy of appeasement, Britain did not spend enough money to deter WW2. This caused causing us to almost lose the Battle of Britain and the war for want of force.
Sadly we are currently destined to make the same mistake unless we recognise the magnitude of our peril and choose a strong deterrence strategy as the best course of survival. I urge you to read and sign the below petition Now Or Never: This Government Must Secure the Defence of the Realm to express your concern for Britain's security and safety.
To respond to the accelerating military power of Russia and China, we must deploy a full-spectrum deterrent by 2025. This includes spending £100bn per year on defence that will stimulate significant economic growth. This is the ‘Now or Never’ moment for Britain to make our shores secure. We face cyber threats and the military adventurism of both China and Russia, sleepwalking into the risk of the destruction and/or subjugation of our nation. Our democracy has been bequeathed to us by previous generations who have fought two World Wars for its continuance. If we are to learn from their sacrifices, it is the only way to avoid war initiated by an aggressive protagonist. We must invest in our military to create a deterrent.
Lecturer to The Higher Command and Staff Course
The Defence Academy of the United Kingdom