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This event has now been cancelled. For further information, please contact Avnish Patel, Research Events Officer at RUSI.

SDSR 2015The National Security Strategy of 2010 clearly sets out a requirement to project influence aboard, based on the projection of power and the use of a ‘unique network of alliances and relationships’, and highlights the need to ‘maintain the capability to act well beyond our shores and work with our allies to have a strategic presence wherever we need it’.

But how is this influence and power projection perceived – by allies, and both current opponents and potential adversaries?  In an era of fiscal constraint and a shrinking defence budget (now forecast to fall below 2% of GDP), are these aspirations credible?  What do we even mean when we discuss the credibility of the UK’s military capability and power projection?

In the second of our SDSR 2015 conferences, we will first examine what we mean by credibility from both the perspective of our allies and that of adversaries.  We will then discuss the UK’s strategic intelligence, military and soft power capabilities to identify how the UK maintains its international and domestic credibility and how the UK might maintain or even increase its global influence during a time of continued austerity.

The UK’s Credibility in the World

To open the debate, we will examine the UK’s credibility in the world from a domestic perspective, exploring the government’s attitude to the credibility of power projection.

Is there a Credibility Gap? Perceptions of Allies and Adversaries

Credibility, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and the British government has two key audiences – our allies and our adversaries.  How is the UK’s credibility understood by our key ally, the United States?  Is the UK taken seriously as a military power by ISIL and Russia?

Are We Able to Predict and Respond to Change?

Strategic horizon scanning – being able to predict and provide early warning of emerging crises – is vital to positioning foreign policy and military responses in the most effective manner.  Does the UK have the capability to do this effectively?

People, Platforms and Plans

At a time of constrained - even shrinking - budgets, the military has difficult choices ahead about the balance of investment across its people, equipment and plans.  Arguably, the ‘people’ leg of this tripod is always the easiest to change but what impact will this have on defence engagement and the military’s ability to sustain a broad range of operations? 

Integrating Pan-Government Intervention Capabilities

Any intervention will involve a range of government departments, exercising a number of levers of power, of which the military instrument is just one.  There is a question about how the military fits into this approach to emerging crises, especially at a time when other government departments are equally stretched.

Building Agility and Resilience

But what does this all mean for defence moving forwards towards the next Strategic Defence and Security Review?  Are the ends, ways and means sufficiently in balance for the UK to be a credible military power?


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