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William F Owen
The greatest alterations in direction announced in the government’s Defence Command Paper are in the Land domain.Land Forces
If UK defence is to achieve the levels of coordination required to meet the aspirations of the Integrated Review, a bold reorganisation of the current command structure and supporting systems is required. If successfully carried out, such a reorganisation could bring significant benefits across government.Armed Forces
The bigger role played by space comes as no surprise given increased government focus on the domain in recent years. However, a lack of detail still leaves some questions unanswered.Aerospace
While the changing character of war is writ large in the Defence Command Paper, its enduring nature is not; war remains a human endeavour. In a competitive age, Defence’s preparedness to win the war for talent remains uncertain.
The Defence Command Paper has bet big that technology will deliver the war-winning edge for the Armed Forces. It has done so without addressing the elephant in the room – personnel.
The new Royal Navy force structure and commitments announced in the Defence Command Paper should create a force broadly suitable for the foreign policy aims laid out in the Integrated Review. However, the second order implications may create problems in future.Maritime Forces
There are notable positive outcomes for the RAF, especially a long-overdue AESA radar upgrade for Typhoon and part-renewal of the Chinook fleet. However, there are also significant cuts to operational capability and key questions remain as yet unanswered.
A decade after the start of Operation ELLAMY, the contrast between the initial aims and the medium-term outcomes is stark. The conflict offers compelling lessons for the current generation of defence planners and policymakers.
The announcement that a forthcoming US Air Force TacAir study will include an assessment of a new clean sheet design to replace the F-16 has led many to label the F-35 a failure. While it is certainly an important change in public messaging, the underlying dynamics do not support this interpretation.
The Israeli government sees Iran’s nuclear programme as an existential threat. The Biden administration is attempting to re-open negotiations, but if these fail and Iran tries to produce a nuclear weapon then Israel might attempt to bomb Iranian nuclear sites. US supplies of new bombs and the B-52 bomber would be critical to any prospects of success.
The two ISTAR types are expensive but remain some of the most operationally relevant and flexible capabilities in the equipment plan, with a vital role to play in support of the RAF and the wider joint force in both high-intensity warfighting and ongoing low-intensity mission sets.Aerospace
The proliferation of ISR and precision fires make resupply of combat brigades an increasingly complex and dangerous task for which legacy tactics are ill suited and in need of revision.Land Forces