British Defence and Security Policy: The Maritime Contribution

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This report analyses the importance of maritime forces and the use of the sea in Government defence and security policy and in the public consciousness as a whole.

The report by Dr Lee Willett draws the following principal conclusions:

  • In the evolving security environment, the UK needs to assess whether its global influence is fundamental to security policy and affordable. It must also assess how influence should be delivered in the context of its international relations, alliances and in the use of the military instrument whether as a matter of choice or obligation
  • The UK is one of only a handful of truly global powers, but needs to re-evaluate its roles and responsibilities within the international system, including the need to contribute substantially to security at sea
  • There is a need to improve national awareness of the importance of sea-borne trade not only to the British economy, but also to the maintenance of security and stability in the wider global economy
  • The UK’s current and short-term military operational tasking dominates debate over military requirements and in danger of precluding an objective evaluation of longer term security policy and military strategy. Maritime military capability typically requires long-term strategic vision and commitment to long-term Expenditure
  • The list of military tasks, which is a key feature of British defence policy and force driver, should be reviewed with view to addressing maritime security operations such as protection of trade and other economic interests beyond UK territorial seas and contiguous zones specifically
  • A present and future challenge which is at the heart of the maritime debate is to balance the requirements for maritime high-intensity combat capability against the ability to deliver global presence to deter strategic threats and to meet this revised set of military tasks
  • The need is to identify an appropriate and affordable size and mix of naval capability adequate for high intensity combat, and contributes effectively to international security and stability in the long term in ways that are appropriate to the nation’s geostrategic situation, its relationships with strategic partners and its perception of long-term global roles.

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