Monday, 06 July 2015
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For any power bloc, the sustainability of foreign policy objectives is an overriding concern. But why has 'Western' power waned across multiple theatres, and does 'the West' even exist as it once did, asks Cory Turner?

Since the advent of the Cold War, 'the West', headed by the United States, has remained in a position of primacy. But with the emergence of new threats across multiple fronts, complicated by unforeseen consequences and difficulties abroad and at home, it is now inaccurate to claim that these nations can sustain their old approaches to foreign policy.

As the Strategic Defence and Security Review gathers pace, the annual RUSI Land Warfare Conference held in London, presented an opportunity for the Army to remind a wider audience what it is for in the post-Afghanistan era. A string of senior military figures lead by the Chief of the General Staff took part in a series of panels to consider how the army will occupy itself post-Afghanistan. Nick Watts was there for Defence Viewpoints.

Promotions, redeployments and retirements in the Armed Forces. One stars on the next page

Maj Gen J I Bashall CBE to be promoted Lt General, become Cdr Personnel & Support Training this month (new post)

Brigadier D M Chalmers DSO OBE to be promoted Maj Gen, succeed Brig T J Lai as Dep Commanding Gen III (US) Corps wef July

Maj Gen (Retired) M L Riddell-Webster CBE, DSO to succeed Maj Gen N H Eeles CBE as Governor, Edinburgh Castle. wef July

Maj Gen N D Ashmore OBE to be General Officer Scotland (new post) (remaining Military Secretary) 

Maj Gen S R Skeates CBE to be Standing Force Jt Cdr wef Octobe (new post)

Brig P A E Nanson CBE to be promoted Maj Gen, succeed Maj Gen S R Skeates as Commandant RMA Sandhurst 

Cdre J S WEale OBE to be promoted Rear Adm, appointed ACNS (Scotland) and also succeed Rear Adm J R H Clink OBE as Flag Off Scotlan & N Ireland wef July

Defence and security acquisition is fundamental to our National Security, writes Bernard Jenkin MP. It contributes to advancing UK Interests by providing the equipment and services needed to deter and counter threats, and to create or to exploit opportunities. It underpins our defence and deterrence postures and, through this, much of our leading-edge industrial and commercial competitiveness. In a globalised world, the suppliers of the equipment and services can no longer all be UK-owned or even UK-based organisations.

Our priority target should not be capabilities per se but the capacity to generate capabilities we need when we need them: equipment which is effective and cost-effective. A more adaptable acquisition model is one that is able to provide for changing circumstances, not one that delivers projects for scenarios that may never come to fruition. Much of the development needed for these technologies is necessarily experimental and therefore risky. The government needs to be able to support innovation where companies cannot do so on their own.

A large proportion of this investment in technological innovation is sold abroad or used in other sectors and generates jobs and revenue for the UK. Maintaining our defence manufacturing capacity and financial arrangements that extend beyond the length of a single parliament would also better support our industries and our armed forces.

Ann Jones, a writer and U K Defence Forum Research Associate,  went to Kabul, Afghanistan, in March to see old friends. This is what she wrote on her return.

By chance, I arrived the day after a woman had been beaten to death and burned by a mob of young men. The world would soon come to know her name: Farkhunda. The name means "auspicious" or "jubilant." She was killed in the very heart of the Afghan capital, at a popular shrine, the burial place of an unnamed ghazi, a warrior martyred for Islam. Years ago, I worked only a few doors away. I knew the neighborhood well as a crossroads for travelers and traders, a market street beside the Kabul River, busy with peddlers, beggars, drug addicts, thieves, and pigeons. It was always a dodgy neighborhood. Now, it had become a crime scene.

In April, at the end of the traditional 40-day period of mourning for the dead woman, that crime scene became the stage for a reenactment of the murder by a group of citizens calling themselves the Committee for Justice for Farkhunda, which was pressing the government to arrest and punish the killers. Shortly after the performance, the office of the attorney general announced formal charges against 49 men: 30 suspected participants in the woman's murder and 19 police officers accused of failing to try to stop it. On May 2nd, a trial began at the Primary Court, carried live on Afghan television. Farkhunda is now dead and buried, but her story has had staying power. It seems to mark the rise of something not seen in Afghanistan for a very long time: the power of people to renounce violence and peacefully reclaim themselves. This makes it worth recalling just how events unfolded and what messages they might hold for Americans, in particular, who have been fighting so fruitlessly in Afghanistan for 13-plus years.

As the new government gets to grips with its programme, including a Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) questions remain about the ability of the Whitehall machinery to deliver a 'Strategic' programme. Major General Jonathan Shaw who saw 'the centre' at first hand recently spoke to Nick Watts Deputy Director General of the U K Defence Forum about what he sees as the shortcomings of Whitehall.

"The systemic failings of Whitehall are easily observed, but not so easy to remedy. Basically Whitehall is structured to deliver departmental answers to departmental problems." Anything bigger than this, such as an SDSR, requires Whitehall "to bend itself out of shape." Shaw believes that the campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan saw this tendency in operation. As Shaw observes: "the comprehensive approach was in effect a collection of individual departments working to their own plans with nobody effectively overseeing them." Shaw believes that If Whitehall is going to address the SDSR properly, things must change.

Many things may happen in Geneva when the Yemen peace negotiations finally get underway. But as the Huthi delegation arrived a day late one thing is sure; no peace will be declared, says Charlie Pratt.

The reason is simple. Each side still thinks they are in a war they can win. The three participants in the negotiations - the legitimate government, backed by Saudi Arabia, under President 'Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the Zaydi Shi'a rebel Huthi group and a delegation associated with the Party of the former, and still Machiavellian, President 'Ali 'Abdallah Salih – each feel that they have time and strength on their side. Neither side has fought to the sort of standstill required to further the peace talks, and the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in Yemen, alongside the rise of AQAP, seem to be distant concerns; certainly not ones forcing any of the sides to accept their responsibility in amending them.

On Monday, June 1, 2015 the Project for Study of the 21 st Century (PS21) held a discussion on "Defence of the Realm" with former UK Director Special Forces and Commander Field Army Lt Gen Sir Graeme Lamb. Here are some of the key points he made.

"It's not the strongest or most intelligent species that survives, it's the one that adapts. My experience is that those who wish us harm are adapting very quickly."

Traditional military capability is no longer enough. Potential adversaries - both non-state groups like Islamic State and rival powers such as Russia, China and Iran - are innovating fast in this space.

"We left the last century where the United States absolutely got to the finish line. Capability dominance -- they nailed it. What do we see now in those who test us today? They are now in fact capable of "capability avoidance". What will be the next step?

"There's a great line "if you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance even less". The danger is that we'll find that we've got into "capability irrelevance"

Nehad Ismail takes a critical look at “Syria Burning - ISIS and the Death of the Arab Spring", by Charles Glass.
Since the eruption of the Arab Spring in 2011 a plethora of books flooded the scene. Most of them offered different analytical opinions to explain the reasons for the uprisings, citing the rise Syriaof the social media such as “Facebook and Twitter” as the motivating engine behind the uprisings. This suggests a strong secular movement by young people who are fed up with the status quo. But what happened in practice was the rapid rise of Islamic movements which hijacked the protests. Instead of demanding freedom and democracy they demanded the application of “Sharia Law” the Islamic penal code. The rise of DAESH/ ISIS  has undermined the Arab Spring and tarnished the image of the revolution thus benefiting the Assad’s regime at least temporarily.

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