RUSI welcomes Defence Green Paper

Professor Michael Clarke, Director of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), welcomes the Ministry of Defence statement announcing a Defence Green Paper and forthcoming Strategic Defence Review.

Professor Michael Clarke said:

There is general agreement that UK defence policy cannot carry on much longer without a Defence Review. And both the military and the defence industries are desperate for one to begin. The Government’s announcement that it will start the work for a Defence Review in developing the Green Paper and then hold a Full Review as soon as constitutionally appropriate is therefore very welcome. Even so, time is running on. The construction of the first new aircraft carrier began today with the Cutting of the First Steel for HMS Queen Elizabeth. It’s a big moment for the Govan Shipyard, but it may prove to a bigger one for the Government since in the next 18 months before the financial details of a Defence Review become clear, a number of such big ticket programmes will have to be reconfirmed, or reviewed. The future of the carrier programme, and much else besides, will still be dependent on some of the more fundamental choices the Government makes about the UK’s strategic future. The Green Paper will doubtless wrestle with these issues, but there will be no definitive conclusions until the state of the public finances are thrown into the mix. That will not happen until the middle of 2010 at the earliest and, until then, both the Armed Forces and the defence industries can do little more than hold onto their basic principles, and also hold their breath.

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