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British Defence Policy - Essay Example

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In 1998, the British government conducted a Strategic Defence Review (SDR). Three years later, the entire world got a very clear picture of what calamities terrorists could bring about, when the al-Qaeda network destroyed most of the World Trade Center in New York City…
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Download file to see previous pages The passengers on the fourth plane rose up and fought their oppressors, but the price was fatal. By the time that military responses could be coordinated, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had already been hit.
Paradigm shifts like this were part of the rationale behind the writing of the Defence White Paper entitled "Delivering Security in a Changing World" in 2003. The British government recognized a number of factors that necessitated changes in the ways that government agencies handled domestic security. According to the introduction to the white paper, it was "evident that the successful management of international security problems [would] require ever more integrated planning of military, diplomatic and economic instruments at both national and international levels" (Ministry of Defence 2003, p. 1). In other words, not only would countries have to be able to cooperate in ways that had not yet been possible in meeting the challenges of a common enemy, agencies within the same government would also have to work in concert swiftly to meet the challenges of terrorism, and there are many countries in which this interagency cooperation would prove more of a challenge than finding common ground with other countries. The improvement in military technologies was also a factor, which led those writing the paper to "look at technologies [can] deliver military effects in different ways[including] flexible forces able to configure to generate the right capability in a less predictable and more complex operational environment" (Ministry of Defence 2003, p. 1). The goal of the white paper was to "move away from simplistic platform-centric planning to a fully 'networked enabled capability' able to exploit effects-based planning and operations, using forces which are truly adaptable, capable of even greater levels of precision, and rapidly deployable" (Ministry of Defence 2003, p. 1). Clearly, some paradigm shifts were underway in the restructuring of British security.
Although the British government conducted another SDR in 2002, after the 9/11 attacks in the United States, there were other international events and factors that led to the writing of this white paper. The first one mentioned was the large number of small crises that were occurring all over the globe, including Kosovo, Macedonia, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Afghanistan, Congo, and Iraq - all at once. Constructing a military to face two or three theaters, at most, would be outdated in the current security environment. Also, while theaters in past conflicts, such as the Falkland Islands, or even such conflicts that, at the time, seemed protracted (like the Second World War), ended up taking less time to resolve that some of these foreign crises have in the past decade. Also, the structure of NATO has changed, transitioning from a group of large, static forces to smaller response teams that can go outside the NATO territory. Similarly, the creation of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) has fragmented the size of response teams even further. Also, a strategic partnership with Russia could present a variety of demands, given the instability that, at times, has plagued Russia's infrastructure, particularly their oil pipelines. The spreading of weapons of mass destruction around the world, and particularly the ease with which individuals and small ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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