Wednesday, 21 March 2018
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nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Gavin Williamson, Britain's new Defence Secretary has won his first battle with the old enemy – the Treasury. He has managed to block plans for a 'fiscally neutral' review of Britain's defence and security capability. The so called National Security and Capability Review had all the hallmarks of a Whitehall led defence review. By separating Defence, he has bought his department time to put its house in order. The Modernising Defence Plan will report by July. He is the latest incumbent to face the challenge of balancing expenditure and capability to produce a credible military in a changing world, writes Nick Watts, pictured.

Williamson appeared before the House of Commons Defence Select Committee on 21st February. Julian Lewis MP the committee chairman supports an uplift to 3% of GDP to be spent on defence. Any further reductions in the UK's military capability will adversely impact its credibility as a defence partner and ally. The UK is struggling to achieve the NATO minimum level of expenditure.

According to media reports, the UK and Saudi Arabia agreed on a goal of 65 billion pounds ($90 billion of mutual trade and investment in the coming years, with the Prime Minister Theresa May's office calling it a "vote of confidence" in the economy before Britain leaves the European Union, Nehad Ismail write recently inn Newshour.

Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to London with a luncheon at Buckingham Palace, a rare honor usually reserved for heads of state, during a viist to London and other capitals. The 32-year-old Crown Prince, who is first in line to inherit the throne from his 82-year-old father, King Salman, was given the red carpet treatment during his official visit to Britain's capital.

We mark the passing of those who have served this country. Contributions from comrades and families welcome

sohail20075925 5686Over the last few months, the tectonic plates of the Afghanistan conflict have shown signs of movement, with the latest being an offer from President Ghani to recognize the Taliban as a political party if they join negotiations "to save the country," writes Dr Sohail Mahmood (pictured).

An October 2017 offer from US Secretary of State Tillerson was followed by a lengthy open letter in February 2018 offering talks. An international conference of 25 nations plus the EU, UN and NATO is currently under way in Kabul. The diplomatic overtures in both directions have not quite been drowned out by the noise of air and vehicle launched bombs.

The "Empty Fortress" is an ancient Chinese military strategy found in the Thirty-Six Stratagems "to feign strength to an adversary when one is in fact extremely weak". It is employed by Beijing today in an endeavor to preserve both the territorial integrity of the Chinese state and the unity of the "Han" ethnic group, writes Joseph E Fallon.

The Western Regions – specifically the Tibetan Autonomous Region, Qinghai Province, and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region -- and the Han identity are inseparable. Loss of the former would not only reduce the size of China by nearly 40 percent, it would likely shatter the "Han" ethnic group further fragmenting what remained of China.

nickwattsIMG 20170907 0924504Powers such as China and Russia are challenging the global predominance of the United States and its allies, according to data and analysis from the International Institute for Strategic Studies' (IISS) The Military Balance 2018, launched on 14th February. Nick Watts (pictured) was there for Defence Viewpoints. Dr John Chipman, IISS Director-General and Chief Executive, believes that while great-power war is not inevitable, these three leading military powers are systematically preparing for the possibility of conflict.

The Secretary of State for Defence has won his first victory. He has succeeded in splitting off the defence element from the National Security and Capability Review (NSCR). The Modernising Defence Plan buys the MOD time. But Williamson and his new Minister for procurement Guto Bebb haven't solved the problem. The defence budget is out of balance, due to inadequate funding. The 2% headline figure includes efficiency savings that drive perverse incentives, writes Nick Watts..

The NSCR is a well-established Whitehall ruse last seen when the Blair Government introduced a 'New Chapter' to its 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) of 1998 following the terrorist attacks of September 2001. The 'New Chapter' [1] was unveiled in July 2002. It sought to 'refresh' the 1998 SDR in the light of the events of the previous September.

memorial2 nWe mark the passing of those who have served this country. Tributes from comrades and families welcome.

wheeldonchw colour photoExcept for the Daily Telegraph and Financial Times, it is interesting that few other British newspapers have chosen to report in any great detail that the French government has announced plans to increase defence spending by 35% for the period covering 2017 to 2025, wrote highly respected defence analyst and commentator, writes Howard Wheeldon (pictured) . Whilst this increase may not match the agreement in the US Senate on Wednesday to raise the military spending cap in the US, this is by any standard of imagination possible a sizable increase by France and for that should be seen as being very pleasing news. Importantly, it is also news that other EU and NATO member states should be taking very serious note of too!

Although not necessarily being done in response to the NATO call to so do, an increase of such proportions will eventually take French defence spending well above the agreed 'work toward' NATO GDP spending target of 2%. For that we should all be very grateful. France is a strong ally of the UK and together both nations are working hard under the Lancaster House agreement to find better solutions and develop better joint capability and working together of their respective militaries.

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