With the recent publication of a Ministry of Defence (MoD) Green Paper and an upcoming Strategic Defence Review (SDR), the debate over future UK defence reform has been fierce. The international response to the Haitian disaster has proven to be a case study in how important high-end naval assets can be to a wide range of UK national interests.
Operation Moshtarak is the most important campaign in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. Its success, however, will not be measured in military terms but in terms of public opinion, both in Helmand and the rest of Afghanistan and in the Coalition's domestic electorate.
The Obama Administration has outlined a refocusing of the United States missile defence plans, revising the approach previously taken by the Bush White House. Central to the plan is the deployment of more mobile systems that could assuage the once sceptical Russians.
The latest Quadrennial Defense Review promises to increase the numbers, sophistication and use of unmanned aerial vehicles, known as drones. Their use has rendered the boundaries of the theatres of war more fluid, requiring the rapid integration of this weapon to be piloted more carefully than ever before.
The latest Quadrennial Defense Review, presented by the US Department of Defense, outlines a five-year programme until 2015 that sees the US playing a 'global role' in 'a complex environment'. It could pave the way for big changes as it accomodates itself to adjusting military capability so as to be able to do more with its allies.
The emergency response to the Haitian earthquake has been notable for the sheer scale of military foreign aid coming from a diverse range of countries. Now the challenge is to co-ordinate that effort with an almost non-existent Haitian government, and a UN force who has suffered losses.
Expectations are unrealistically high, and the style of American political leadership will change more than the substance – yet the inauguration of Barack Obama as America’s first black president is hugely significant, and the very problems he is inheriting could enhance his chances for success, and perhaps even for greatness.
Barack Obama’s appointment of an intelligence outsider as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency signals a break with Bush-era intelligence policy. If the Obama administration allows intelligence to rank low on their list of priorities, however, they risk neglecting the acute threat that terrorism and traditional espionage pose to the US today.
There are unlikely to be early and major changes to US plans for Missile Defence under an Obama Administration. But as the Russians plan to install missiles in a possible response to the initiative, debates on the controversial European ‘Third Site’ segment of the US defensive shield could well intensify.
US policy towards Pakistan is inextricably tied up with its activities in Afghanistan, and Obama cannot afford to ignore it. If he is to have any hope of mending the US’s troubled relationship with the state, a fundamental reassessment of the situation is essential.