If the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and subsequent reforms are to deliver real change as promised, the implications for the men and women of the Armed Forces, their families and the people they serve are huge. The timelines for the review are so short that there is little opportunity for public discussion. Key issues to be addressed in this conference are:
- Force transformation for greater agility, efficiency and cost effectiveness and its implications for joint and service structures and the command and management of rationalised forces. In particular, what are the challenges in balancing the rising costs of military personnel (including the social provision to which they are entitled) in the context of the enduring circumstances of global financial austerity;
- Military ethos and culture – what is a ‘military ethos and culture’ in modern society, what should be exploited and developed and what stands in the way of progress;
- How should the Armed Forces Covenant Task Force give real substance to the mantra in defining the nation’s responsibilities to its warriors. The conference will examine changing public attitudes towards the Armed Forces, including public awareness of the funding challenges they face, whether public support for forces engaged in theatre translates into support for a greater public and political focus on defence spending, and the public tolerance or otherwise of casualties in battle and of the government’s commitment of its forces to conflicts;
- How can the British people be properly engaged in the commitment of their armed forces to violence and danger and what does this mean for the Government’s war powers and for public diplomacy;
- What are the implications for recruiting, training, military education and retention – in sum, what makes service personnel join, what makes them stay, what are their expectations and what makes them effective in what they do?
The SDSR is reaching a critical phase in its gestation. At this stage in its development, only limited information on its content and conclusions is likely to be publicly available. This conference – the last RUSI defence review conference taking place before the SDSR is published – will provide the opportunity for a range of non-military and non-governmental stakeholders to offer fresh, focused thinking on these issues and on the challenges facing the UK Armed Forces in the context of the wider social developments in the UK.
The conference will aim to give a real sense of the difficulties and dilemmas faced in the SDSR, and what realistic policy solutions might exist in developing a ‘new deal’ which supports UK defence policy and the needs of service personnel and the British people. Since November 2008, this high profile and influential series of events has provided, for all stakeholders, a primary opportunity to engage in thinking, analysis and debate about the UK and wider international security and defence agenda.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Sir Rob Fry KCB CBE, Chairman, McKinney Rogers and Council Member, RUSI
- Captain Patrick Hennessey, formerly of the Grenadier Guards and the author of The Junior Officers' Reading Club
- David Rodin, Senior Research Fellow, Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford
- Professor Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of the History of War, University of Oxford
- Dr Bryan Watters, The Centre for Defence Management and Leadership, Cranfield University and Defence Academy of the UK
- Professor Simon Wessely, Director, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London
This event will also feature an exclusive lunchtime lecture by Edward Luttwak, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Washington, DC) and author of The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. In this lecture, Edward Luttwak will discuss strategy, intelligence and diplomacy from an historical perspective and further details are available here.