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Professor Malcolm Chalmers

Position: Research Director / Director, UK Defence Policy Studies

Professor Malcolm Chalmers is Research Director and Director (UK Defence Policy) at RUSI. He is a Special Adviser to the UK Parliament's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, and was a member of the UK Cabinet Office consultative group for the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, and of the UK Defence Secretary's Advisory Forum for the 2010 Defence Green Paper. He was Visiting Professor of Defence and Foreign Policy in the Department of War Studies, Kings College, London, and was an FCO Special Adviser to Foreign Secretaries Jack Straw MP and Margaret Beckett MP.

His recent publications on UK defence policy include ‘The Financial Context for the 2015 SDSR’ RUSI Briefing, September 2014; three chapters in Adrian Johnson, Wars in Peace: UK Military Operations Since 1990, RUSI Books, 2014; ‘Towards the UK's Nuclear Century’, RUSI Journal, December 2013; ‘Will Scotland Sink the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent?’, Washington Quarterly, 36, 3, summer 2013 (with Professor William Walker); ‘Respite from the Storm? Defence and the 2013 Spending Review outcome’, RUSI Analysis, June 2013; ‘Kingdom’s End?’, RUSI Journal, June/July 2012; ‘Looking into the Black Hole: Is the UK Defence Budget Crisis Really Over?, RUSI Briefing Paper, October 2011; ‘Keeping our Powder Dry? UK Defence Policy Beyond Afghanistan’, RUSI Journal, 156, 1, 2011; ‘Unbalancing the Force: Prospects for UK Defence after the SDSR’ RUSI Future Defence Review Working Paper, November 2010; ‘Capability Cost Trends: Implications for the Defence Review’, RUSI Future Defence Review Working Paper, January 2010; ‘Preparing for the lean years: how will Britain defence spending fare in an age of austerity?’, RUSI Future Defence Review Working Paper, July 2009; ‘The Myth of Defence Inflation’, RUSI Defence Systems, June 2009; ‘Britain's new nuclear debate’, RUSI Journal, 154, 2, April 2009; ‘A Force for Influence: Making British Defence Effective’, RUSI Journal, December 2008.

For an extended list of publications by Professor Chalmers, click here >


External articles

Looking Beyond the Chicago Summit: Nuclear Weapons in Europe and the Future of NATO, Carnegie Paper

'Nuclear Weapons and the Prevention of Major War' in Camille Grand (editor), Thinking About Strategy: A Tribute to Michael Quinlan, FRS Paris, 2011;

'Comparing UK and Chinese nuclear force development', Peace and Development (Beijing), forthcoming, 2011.

'Keeping our Powder Dry? UK Defence Policy Beyond Afghanistan', RUSI Journal, 156, 1, February 2011.

'The Lean Years: Defence Consequences of the Fiscal Crisis', in Michael Codner (edited), A Question of Security: The British Defence Review in an Age of Austerity, I. B. Tauris, 2011, pp. 33-78.

'The new politics of intervention', Renewal, 17, 1, 2009, pp. 37-43.

'Britain and the World: Options for UK Foreign and Security Policy', in Varun Uberoi, Adam Coutts, Iain McLean, and David Halpern (eds)., Options for a New Britain, Palgrave, 2009.

'The new politics of intervention', Renewal, 17, 1, 2009, pp. 37-43. 

'A Force for Influence: Making British Defence Effective', RUSI Journal, 153, 6, December 2008.

 'Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation: strengthening the links', memorandum of evidence to Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry on Global Security: Non-Proliferation, September 2008.

Global Inequality and Security Policy: A British Perspective, RUSI Whitehall Paper, Routledge, May 2008.

'Engaging Iran', Fabian Review, Winter 2007.

'Spending to Save: the cost-effectiveness of conflict prevention', Defense and Peace Economics, 18, 1, February 2007, pp. 1-24. The full study on which this is based is here:  

Rescuing the State: Europe's Next Challenge (editor), Foreign Policy Centre / British Council / European Commission, March 2005; 

Evaluation of the Conflict Prevention Pools: Synthesis Report (co-author), Evaluation Report, Cabinet Office / DFID / FCO / MoD / HMT, March 2004.

Security Sector Reform in Southern Africa (editor), International Institute for Strategic Studies, November 2003.

Estimated UK Employment Dependent on Ministry of Defence Expenditure and Defence Exports

, (with AJW Turner and K Hartley), Defence Analytical Services Agency, Ministry of Defence, Defence Statistics Bulletin No. 5, March 2003.

'The new activism: UK defence policy since 1997', New Economy, Vol. 9, No. 4, December 2002, 206-211.

'The Economic Costs and Benefits of UK Defence Exports', Fiscal Studies, Vol. 23, No. 3, September 2002, 305-342. (with Neil Davies, Keith Hartley and Chris Wilkinson)

'The United Kingdom, Nuclear Weapons and the Scottish Question' The Non-Proliferation Review, 9, 1, Spring 2002, 1-15. (with William Walker)

'The Atlantic burden-sharing debate - widening or fragmenting?', International Affairs, Vol. 77, No. 3, July 2001, pp. 569-586.

 Uncharted Waters: The UK, Nuclear Weapons and the Scottish Question, Tuckwell Press, 2001. 196 pages. Co-authored with William Walker.

A Transatlantic New Deal: What Europe should pay to promote US engagement, Foreign Policy Centre, London, January 2001.

Sharing security: the political economy of burdensharing, Macmillan, 2000. 230 pages.

 Security Sector Reform: a role for the European Union, Saferworld, 1999. 25 pages.

 "Bombs Away'? Britain and nuclear weapons under New Labour', Security Dialogue, 30, 1, 1999, 61-74.

Kosovo: the crisis and beyond, Saferworld, 1999. 23 pages.

'UK nuclear weapons policy after the SDR', in Centre for Defence Studies, Brassey's Defence Yearbook 1999, Brassey's, 1999, 253-266.

Democratic Accountability and Parliamentary Control in the Military Sphere in the Newly Independent States,

Bradford University/CPIS, Moscow, 1998, 301 pages (in Russian). Edited with Owen Greene and Alexander Nikitin.

British security policy: Broadening the agenda, Saferworld, December 1997 (with David Mepham). 33 pages. 

British Arms Export Policy and Indonesia, Saferworld, 1997. 44 pages.

Defence for the 21st Century: towards a post-Cold War force structure, Fabian Society, 1997. 29 pages.

British Nuclear Weapons Policy: The Next Steps, International Security Information Service, 1997. 30 pages.

 Developing Arms Transparency: the future of the UN Register, University of Bradford and CPDNP, 269 pages, 1997. (edited with Owen Greene and Mitsuro Donowaki)

 'The debate on a regional arms register in South-East Asia', The Pacific Review, 10, 1, 1997, 104-123.

 'Conceptualising arms control after the Cold War', in Michael Clarke (ed), Brassey's Defence Yearbook 1997, Centre for Defence Studies / Brassey's, 1997, 273-288.

'ASEAN and Confidence-Building: Continuity and Change after the Cold War', Contemporary Security Policy, 18, 1, 1997, 36-56.

'Sharing the burden of European defence' in Jane Sharp (ed), About Turn: Forward March with Europe, IPPR / River Oram Press, 1996, 107-122.                             

'What do we need the armed forces for?', in John Gittings and Ian Davis (eds), Rethinking defence and foreign policy, Spokesman Books, 1996, 27-38.

'Openness and Security Policy in South-East Asia', Survival, 38, 3, 1996, 82-98.

 Confidence-building in South-East Asia, Westview Press, 1996. 279 pages.

Taking Stock: the UN Register After Two Years, Westview Press, 1995 (with Owen Greene). 288 pages.

'Military spending and the British economy', in David Coates and John Hillard (eds), UK Economic Decline: Key Texts, Harvester-Wheatsheaf, 1995.

 Developing the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Westview Press, 1994 (edited with Owen Greene, Edward J. Laurance and Herbert Wulf). 340 pages.

'The Development of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms: Prospects and Proposals', The Non-Proliferation Review,  1, 3, 1994, 1-17 (with Owen Greene).

'The UN Arms Register: An Emerging Global Transparency Regime?', Contemporary Security Policy, 15, 3, 1994, 58-83 (with Owen Greene).

'Expanding Europe's security community', Current Politics and Economics of Europe, 3, 2, 1993, 111-130.

'Developing a security regime for Eastern Europe', Journal of Peace Research,  30, 4, 1993, 427-444.

'Security Burdensharing and the Transatlantic Relationship', Paradigms, 7, 2, 1993, 22-32.

Implementing and Developing the UN Register of Conventional Arms

, Peace Research Report Number 32, Bradford University, May 1993, 120 pages. (with Owen Greene).

'Britain and alliance burden-sharing', in Michael Clarke and Philip Sabin (eds), British defence choices in the twenty-first century, Brassey's, 1993, 102-129.

Biting the Bullet: Britain's European defence option, Institute for Public Policy Research, 1992. 80 pages.

 'Reciprocal Disarmament: A Game Proposal', Naval War College Review, 44, 3, 1991, 58-74.

 Western security and Soviet reform, Saferworld, 1991. 40 pages.

 Reciprocal Unilateralism as a complement to CFE, AFES Press, Mosbach, 1990. 72 pages.

'Beyond the Alliance System', World Policy Journal, 7, 2, 1990, 215-250.

'Soviet weapons procurement in the 1980's' Defense Analysis, 6, 3, 1990, 255-262.

'Beyond cfe: Cutting Conventional Procurement', Arms Control Today, 1990, 13-17. 

'An unstable triumvirate? European security structures after the Cold War', Current Research on Peace and Violence, 13, 3, 1990, 175-195.

 UK Defence Requirements 1990-2000, Saferworld, 1990. 28 pages

'Conventional forces in Europe' in Dan Smith (ed), European Security in the 1990's, Pluto Press, 1989, 67-79.

'The Tank Gap Data Flap', International Security, 13, 4, 1989, 187-194 (with Lutz Unterseher).

'Is there a tank gap?' International Security, 13, 1, 1988, 5-49 (with Lutz Unterseher).

'The future of the Royal Navy's frigate and destroyer fleet', memorandum published in House of Commons Defence Committee, 'The Future Size and Role of the Royal Navy's Surface Fleet', Sixth Report of the Defence Committee, London, HMSO, 1988.

 The 1987 Defence Budget: Time for Choice? , Peace Research Report Number 17, Bradford, 1987. 134 pages.

Trends in UK Defence Spending in the 1980's, Peace Research Report Number 11, Bradford, 1986. 91 pages.

Paying for Defence: Military Spending and British Decline, Pluto Press, 1985. 200 pages.

Click here for the full list >

RUSI articles and analysis by this author

201509 Briefing Paper Briefing Paper: The 'Missing Links' in SDSR Financing: Organised Crime, Migration and Diplomacy 10 Sep 2015
It will be up to the government to decide whether protecting certain areas of defence and security spending from further cuts is justified

SDSR 2015 New RUSI briefing points to missing links in Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) financing 10 Sep 2015
A new RUSI briefing warns of the risks of steep spending cuts in UK departments and agencies responsible for tackling illegal migration, organised crime and supporting UK diplomacy.

201507 BP Summer Surprise for Defence Briefing Paper: Osborne's Summer Surprise for Defence: Guaranteed Real-Terms Spending Increases 11 Aug 2015
The government has unexpectedly announced that the Ministry of Defence will receive a real-terms increase in its budget

Ministry of Defence plaque Defence and the Election Outcome 12 May 2015
It is reasonable to assume that there will be a real-terms increase in the defence budget now that the Conservatives have full control of the government. However, commitments to future military interventions are less certain.

201505 BP A Force for Order cover Briefing Paper: A Force for Order: Strategic Underpinnings of the Next NSS and SDSR 6 May 2015
The grand strategic objectives of UK foreign and defence policy remain as valid as ever. But their application needs to be adapted to changing circumstances

MoD Armed forces could face further personnel cuts after General Election 9 Mar 2015
A new RUSI paper highlights the real possibility of further reductions in defence spending and personnel numbers in the forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review, which is due to start after the General Election.

MoD This Chastened Isle 27 Feb 2015
Even with further painful cuts looming for defence, the UK will likely remain a major interventionist power with potent capabilities. (Free access)

US Airstrikes on ISIS positions near Kobane Western Operations Against ISIS: Holding Back in Syria 24 Nov 2014
Unlike the United States, British military operations in Iraq have not been extended into Syria. This distinction may not make sense at an operational level, but it reflects continuing uncertainty as to the direction of US policy towards the Assad regime.

After Scotland referendum Still Together, for Now 4 Nov 2014
Although Scotland voted against independence, questions remain about the future of the UK and its defence posture

UK OK poster from the Better Together Campaign for Scotland Never the Same Again – What the Referendum Means for the UK and the World 19 Sep 2014
The people of Scotland have opted to stay in the United Kingdom. But does it settle the question for a generation? The next few years will be spent working out a new constitutional equilibrium.

201409 BP Financial Context of SDSR Briefing Paper: The Financial Context for the 2015 SDSR: The End of UK Exceptionalism? 4 Sep 2014
On current projections, the UK will fall below the NATO target for defence spending in 2015

OP Relocation Thumb Relocation, Relocation, Relocation 11 Aug 2014
A Scottish vote for independence would present a significant challenge to the rest of the UK’s nuclear forces, with implications for the country's nuclear-weapons policy

Salmond Scottish Independence Flag Dissolution and Defence: Scotland's Armed Forces after a Yes Vote 9 May 2014
How would Scotland's new armed forces be structured following a vote for independence? (Free access)

Houghton Let Debate Commence: Key Strategic Questions for the 2015 SDSR 15 Jan 2014
A renewed debate over British defence capability has begun, bringing to the fore key questions likely to be considered in the coming SDSR (Free access)

Vanguard class Towards the UK's Nuclear Century 16 Dec 2013
Despite financial, strategic and technical issues surrounding the development of a successor system to Trident, the UK’s commitment to a nuclear deterrent is unchanged (free access)

MoD Plaque Autumn Gloom: The Treasury’s Autumn Statement and the Ministry of Defence 10 Dec 2013
The Autumn Statement, published on 5 December, announced spending cuts in the UK Ministry of Defence’s budgets for the next two years. the MoD's continued status as a 'non-ring-fenced' department means that it will struggle to avoid further real cuts after 2015.

Scottish and UK Flags RUSI Expert Comments on Ministry of Defence's Scotland paper 8 Oct 2013
RUSI Research Director comments on the Ministry of Defence paper highlighting how the UK and Scotland can benefit from an integrated approach to defence.

UK and US troops in Iraq Parliament's Decision on Syria: Pulling Our Punches 30 Aug 2013
The UK Parliament's decision not to intervene militarily in Syria marked an important watershed in UK defence and security policy. The consequences will be examined with interest by allies and potential adversaries alike.

Great Expectations thumb Great Expectations: The P5 Process and the Non-Proliferation Treaty 30 Aug 2013
If it can be properly harnessed, and the risks managed, the P5 Process could help build confidence between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states

MoD Plaque 2 Respite from the Storm? Defence and the 2013 Spending Review outcome 28 Jun 2013
The Spending Review, announced on Wednesday, has surprised the many commentators who thought defence capabilities would face further significant cuts. The Ministry of Defence has achieved a settlement that is substantially better than might have been expected.

201306 OP The Future of the UKs Co-operative Nuclear Relationships The Future of the UK's Co-operative Nuclear Relationships 4 Jun 2013
Britain's nuclear capability has been shaped by a longstanding co-operative relationship with the US and, more recently, France. These arrangements may be unlikely to expand in the future

MoD Plaque The Squeeze Continues - UK Defence Spending and the 2013 Budget 25 Mar 2013
UK defence spending was further squeezed in the 2013 Budget announcement. It is likely to face additional cuts for 2015/16 in the 2015 Spending Review. The defence budget for subsequent years may depend on how the 2015 Spending Review shares the burden of future austerity between expenditure cuts and tax rises.

201302 Briefing Mid-Term Blues Briefing Paper: Mid-Term Blues - Defence and the 2013 Spending Review 26 Feb 2013
As the government's austerity measures continue, the Ministry of Defence will face more tough choices with less money

Whitehall Report 4-12 A Problem Deferred? NATO Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons after Chicago 25 Oct 2012
The controversial issue of NATO tactical nuclear weapons did not derail the Chicago summit. An international selection of experts dissect the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review process

WHP 78 Cover Less is Better: Nuclear Restraint at Low Numbers (WHP 78) 5 Oct 2012
If the world is to move towards smaller holdings of nuclear warheads, correct sequencing in a web of complicated bilateral relationships is vital

1206_Journal_Chalmers_thumbnail Kingdom's End? 12 Jun 2012
What would the implications of Scottish independence be for the defence of the British Isles, and of Scotland in particular? (Free access)

RUSI CREST RUSI partners with international think-tanks to explore the future of NATO non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe 25 Apr 2012
In advance of the NATO summit in Chicago RUSI has collaborated with the partner institutions in the United States to explore potential solutions to NATO's emerging nuclear dilemmas.

UK-China NPT Feb 2012 Forging UK-China Consensus on a Strengthened NPT Regime 19 Apr 2012
A collection of British and Chinese nuclear security experts come together to provide a fresh set of insights into the non-proliferation regime. Available in English and Chinese

Briefing Paper June 2012 Briefing Paper: Defence in an Independent Scotland 16 Apr 2012
The debate about an independent Scotland is picking up steam. Defence will present its own set of challenges should the Yes vote prevail

Attacking Iran: Up in the air 27 Feb 2012
RUSI's Malcolm Chalmers talks to The Economist newspaper on the risks involved in a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear programme

Poland NATO and NSNW cover Poland, NATO and Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons in Europe 17 Feb 2012
The debate in NATO over tactical nuclear weapons continues. Poland provides an intriguing case study of the dynamics at work

WHR 3-11 Cover 2 Small Nuclear Forces: Five Perspectives 1 Dec 2011
In an era of smaller weapons stockpiles, what are the policy drivers for the medium-sized nuclear-weapon states - and how might they determine future disarmament?

wavyiranianflagthumb Iran's Nuclear Ambitions: A Steady Crawl to Breakout Capability 15 Nov 2011
The International Atomic Energy Agency's latest report on Iran describes in unprecedented detail a country moving slowly towards a nuclear weapons option, rather than a bomb itself. This lack of a 'smoking gun' removes military response from the international community's toolbox of policy options. But this is no grounds for complacency.

September 2011 Briefing Paper Briefing Paper: Is the UK Defence Budget Crisis Really Over? 5 Oct 2011
The Ministry of Defence appears to have finally balanced the books, at least on paper. But the real work to make the savings real begins now

MoD Plaque UK Defence Budget: Looking into the Black Hole 27 Sep 2011
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) appears to have balanced the £74 billion* ten-year 'funding gap', but key equipment programmes, such as Trident renewal and Joint Strike Fighter, are still a major source of potential instability to defence budget, highlights a new paper from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Libya Rebels Accidental Heroes: Britain, France and the Libya Operation - RUSI Interim Libya Campaign Report 23 Sep 2011
23/09/11: A RUSI report looks at the diplomatic, strategic and military aspects of the recent Libya campaign.

Afghanistan soldier Analysing the implications for a complete US withdrawal in 2014 27 Jul 2011
Following a recent visit to Afghanistan, RUSI's Research Director assesses the impact of withdrawal from Afghanistan.

NATOs Nuclear Debate in Europe OC Paper If the Bombs Go: European Perspectives on NATO’s Nuclear Debate 25 May 2011
US tactical nuclear weapons may be heading out of Europe. What are the implications?

Afghan man in Sangin Keeping our Powder Dry? UK Defence Policy Beyond Afghanistan 16 Feb 2011
Prolonged military commitments and financial austerity call into question Britain’s participation in the age of intervention

National Security 2 The National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review 18 Oct 2010
Are the strategic threats and opportunities adequately recognised in the Strategic Defence and Security Review?

MoD logo SDSR an opportunity, not a death sentence, says RUSI analyst 15 Sep 2010
Professor Malcolm Chalmers believes that, rather than destroying the capabilities of the armed forces, the SDSR could help to create more sustainable armed services.

NATO Occasional Paper cover NATO and Nuclear Weapons 24 Aug 2010
Is a new consensus possible over NATO's nuclear weapons policy?

Vanguard Class SSBN Can we afford to renew Trident? 30 Jul 2010
The Chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that funding for the renewal of Britain's nuclear deterrent must come from the Ministry of Defence's core budget. RUSI's Malcolm Chalmers assesses the ramifications of this announcement.

Trident Like for like renewal of Trident will come at expense of conventional forces 28 Jul 2010
The UK's current commitment to maintain a nuclear-armed missile submarine on deterrent patrol at all times (Continuous At-Sea Deterrence, or 'CASD'), is driven as much by institutional and political momentum as by strategic necessity, and plans to order a new generation of submarines after 2015 now threatens to be at the expense of further reduction in conventional forces according to a new report from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Osborne Prognosis for defence spending after Budget 2010 24 Jun 2010
The first budget of the Coalition government could lead to the core defence budget being cut in real terms by up to 15%, with numbers of military personnel being reduced by around 30,000.

FDR large banner A Question of Balance? The Deficit and Defence Priorities 3 Jun 2010
The deeper the immediate budget cuts that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has to make, the greater the risk of reduced capability without commensurate financial gains, argues the latest Future Defence Review Working Paper from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

FDR7 A Question of Balance? The Deficit and Defence Priorities 3 Jun 2010
The deeper the immediate budget cuts that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has to make, the greater the risk of reduced capability without commensurate financial gains, argues the latest Future Defence Review Working Paper from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

WHR Nuclear Narratives thumb Nuclear Narratives: Reflections on Declaratory Policies 27 May 2010
As Foreign Secretary William Hague announces an overhaul of UK nuclear declaratory policy, a new report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) shows that it must fundamentally reconcile declarations of nuclear deterrence and nuclear disarmament.

Handshake Obama Medvedev Numbers and Words: Prospects for Nuclear Arms Control 30 Apr 2010
While there have been crucial advances on the arms control agenda, crucial questions remain for the major nuclear powers

New START Walking, not running: New START and the Nuclear Posture Review 16 Apr 2010
The achievements of the NPR and the signing of New START are the first steps towards President Obama’s stated goal of a nuclear free world. However limited their successes may be, their announcements signify real progress in nuclear disarmament.

Tornado Not with a bang but a whimper: Europe’s pending denuclearisation 12 Mar 2010
Within the next decade, European aircraft capable of delivering US nuclear weapons are due to be withdrawn from service. What are the options available to NATO in the debate over the continuance of its tactical nuclear capability?

NATOs Nuclear Dilemmas 2 NATO's Tactical Nuclear Dilemma 11 Mar 2010
Renewed debate over the stationing of US nuclear weapons in Europe comes at a crucial time for NATO. This paper charts the key political and technical issues in the debate

FDR thumb RUSI Future Defence Review paper: UK’s Armed Forces face personnel cuts of 20% over the next six years 12 Jan 2010
The growing costs of UK defence capabilities, combined with cuts in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) budget as a result of the nation's fiscal crisis, will make it impossible to preserve current numbers of service personnel and front-line capabilities.

Double or Quits in Afghanistan? 27 Jul 2009
A new policy of ‘Double or Quits’ has recently emerged for Afghanistan. Following a surge in troop levels both the US and UK political leadership hope for a rapid improvement in the security situation, but without this calls for a reassessment of priorities will grow louder. There is, however, the opportunity for a ‘third way’, modelled on the British experience in Basra after 2006, where a reduced footprint provided the opportunity for the success of local Iraqi forces.

Future Defence Review MoD faces 10-15 per cent budget cut 2 Jul 2009
A new RUSI report declares the MoD faces a budget cut of around 10-15 per cent in real terms between 2010 and 2016


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