A new defence strategy has been jointly published by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond and Foreign Secretary William Hague, outlining how international defence engagement is to be focused on contributing to the success of wider government objectives.
The International Defence Engagement Strategy outlines how defence activity, excluding combat operations, will focus efforts on those countries which are most important to the UK’s national interests.
The strategy outlines the ‘four pillars of defence’: diplomacy, support to operations, exports and building stability. It ensures that Britain is developing relationships and influence over a longer-term 20-year horizon so as to achieve set objectives in a period of uncertainty and change.
Examples of the new strategy already in practice include:
• establishing a new Defence Attaché and Defence Section in the British Embassy in Burma;
• closer work with Libya including advice to train its military, especially its Navy and Air Force, and helping to establish bomb disposal and defence language schools;
• plans to open a new Defence Section in the new British Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia;
• recently opening a Defence Section in Juba, South Sudan.
The MOD is also exploring ways of using Army capabilities on a wide range of defence engagement tasks and will pilot this as the Army restructures its Adaptable Force Brigades as part of Army 2020.
The strategy has been developed by the MOD and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in consultation with other government departments. £6m of funding has been made available for this work through reprioritising existing budgets.
Mr Hammond said: “Defence, and in particular the Armed Forces, plays an important role in delivering Britain’s international objectives, drawing on our reputation and capabilities.
“This strategy is welcome at a time of limited financial resources, providing a means to focus our assets and activities such that we can make an even greater contribution to securing a safe and prosperous future for the UK.”