Guest Blog: Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, on the SDSR

As the dust settles in the aftermath of the publication of the SDSR, Ian Godden A|D|S Chairman gives his opinion…

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Last week (18 – 20 October 2010) saw the beginning of the next stage of development in UK defence and security – both for industry and Government. Monday and Tuesday’s announcements on the Strategic Defence and Security Review are by no means the end of a process. Rather they mark the next stage of action which will lay the way for the future of not only the UK’s defence and security industries, but also the nation’s physical and fiscal security.

Clearly it was a difficult week for everyone involved. Whether you consider the changes that are now required from the armed forces, the industry which proudly supplies them or the politicians which had to make these tough decisions, it is plainly evident that harsh medicine has been served to all. The prescription has been administered, and now it is down to the patients to begin the process of recovery.

Industry has taken its dose, and is now ready and eager to begin the process which will ensure that we deliver both for the armed forces and our export customers in the lines laid out in the Review. Additionally, with the beginning of process that will lead to the Defence Industrial Technology Policy expected in November, the UK defence industrial base can expect to have the direction from the Government that it requires to guide it for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately the success of the Review lies with the extent it is able to ensure the future of the UK’s industrial capabilities in addressing the long term security needs of the nation and the requirements for our armed forces in their ever changing role. The clarity the SDSR allows industry to adapt current projects and plans, as well as to make the important investment decisions that will ensure the presence of a UK based industry.

The UK has a world leading defence industry, second only to the US globally in terms of exports and is number one in Europe. Defence exports generated £7.2bn last year, making industry an important means of contributing to the UK’s wealth supplementing the £32bn turnover of the UK-based sector. With a workforce of over 300,000, collaboration between Government and industry is a must if we are to sustain not only these jobs but also the UK’s position in these global sectors.

Alongside the multinational firms based in Britain we also have more small and medium sized enterprises in defence than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Norway combined.  This is the foundation on which defence industrial success is built and their needs must not be forgotten if the UK is to retain its ability to supply and support our troops to the highest possible standard. It is through these innovative businesses that the UK defence industry has been able to demonstrate its flexibility in meeting current operational challenges, and it is crucial that as much as possible is done to ensure that the UK maintains the right working environment for them to flourish.

A renewed focus on exports, through a strengthening of UK Trade and Investment’s Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) to boost overseas demand for the services provided by our industry would enable the retention of crucial capabilities that will allow the sector to continue to provide the best possible equipment and support to our own armed forces.  Such joined-up working would deliver more adaptable, affordable and exportable equipment that will benefit the UK’s armed forces and its economy. In addition, reinvigorated relationships with similarly minded European countries will also be a key requirement to deliver a stronger future for UK industry.

The UK defence industry provides a key component of the nation’s military capability in support of our troops and is an economic success story.  Therefore, the need is for the Review to sustain UK-based industrial capabilities, exports and research and technology – all of which are crucial to the long-term future of our armed forces and our industrial base. Industry understands that money is tight, and that in seeking economic growth the Government needs all the aid it can get.

By working together industry and Government can deliver for our armed forces, our economy and our industrial base. The SDSR was tough medicine to swallow for everyone but if we can emerge in better health for the long-term then these difficult times will have been worthwhile.

What do you think? Do you agree with Ian, or would you like to add something to the debate on the outcomes of the SDSR? Hit ‘comment’ and share your ideas with us.


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