2 March 2020
DRD Partner Duncan Fulton’s piece about the integrated Defence and Security Review.
These reviews always the most ambitious since the end of the Cold War.
Typically, they are prefixed with ‘Strategic’ in the sense of: ‘will never happen’.
This one promises to be Integrated, which is nice.
They follow a time honoured pattern.
MOD claims all Services are at once under strength and indispensable.
Everyone will point to two box-fresh air-craft carriers.
The number of F-35s will halve.
The Royal Marines will be sacrificed.
The Treasury will argue you can have bullets or guns.
The Home Office throws back its head in laughter at the folly of it all and then digs in.
DFID and its supporters herald the End of Days should a penny less than 0.7% of GDP be spent on aid.
The Guardian will get cross.
The Telegraph will demand “more tanks”.
That upstart, Serious and Organised Crime, will be described as a ‘Tier One threat’ and then politely ignored.
The Foreign Office will trumpet its extraordinary global influence, but will crumple like a linen suit at the first hint of pressure from Whitehall.
When it all comes down to it, the Spooks and Special Forces always win.
It will emphasise the importance of burden sharing – which used to mean: ‘it’s OK, the Americans will do it or, at a push, the French’.
That chapter might need some work.
Outside experts will be brought in, which really means ex-Civil Servants at RUSI, some recently departed and newly strident Permanent Under Secretaries from the FCO, some septuagenarian ex-Generals and, of course, Admiral Lord West.
The world will have moved on before procurement has got its pyjamas on.
And don’t forget the bit on Cyber.
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