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Delivering Security in a Changing World

Delivering Security in a Changing World

Defence White Paper Presented to Parliament by Geoffrey Hoon, Secretary of State for Defence, By Command of Her Majesty, December 2003, CM 6040.

Throughout this Government’s time in office, the UK’s Armed Forces have consistently risen to the challenges set them, continuing a military tradition of which the whole nation can be proud. This success is no accident. It depends on the ability of our people, properly trained, motivated and equipped, focussed and organised on achieving results and directed by outstanding leaders throughout the chain of command. The British people expect the Government to continue to deliver high quality Armed Forces capable of responding to the uncertainties and threats of today’s security environment, and to ensure our Service men and women receive the level of support they need. This White Paper sets out the policy for doing so, building on the expeditionary strategy first set out in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) in 1998 and the conclusions reached in the SDR New Chapter in 2002, and adapted to reflect operational experience and the changing security environment.

The Paper sets out our analysis of the future security environment, the implications for defence, and how we intend adapting our planning and force structures to meet the potential threats. While many of the conclusions reached in the SDR remain valid, the threats posed by international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are starker, as are the risks to wider security posed by failed or failing states. Whereas in the past it was possible to regard military force as a separate element in crisis resolution, it is now evident that the successful management of international security problems will require ever more integrated planning of military, diplomatic and economic instruments at both national and international levels. We have also had to look at how we can best take advantage of the opportunities offered by new technologies to deliver military effects in different ways. Our focus is now on delivering flexible forces able to configure to generate the right capability in a less predictable and more complex operational environment. This will require us 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. This implies significant changes in the way we plan, prepare and execute operations, placing different pressures and demands on our people, equipment, supporting infrastructure and processes.

For these reasons we must be prepared to invest in recruiting and retaining the right people, providing them with the necessary training, development and support. We must invest in the battle-winning equipment they will need and continue to modernise the rest of Defence to effectively support expeditionary operations. Resources must be directed at those capabilities that best deliver the range of effects required, while we must have the determination to dispense with those capabilities that do not. We expect to be in a position to announce significant changes to the current and future capabilities of the Armed Forces and supporting infrastructure next year. These will be considered in the continuing work to establish the nature of a sustainable and affordable future force structure. This White Paper presents the security and policy baseline against which future decisions will be made and gives a clear statement of our future strategic priorities.

  • A separate publication on Operation TELIC is being published in parallel with this White Paper. We have not yet drawn complete conclusions of the implications on lessons on the operations in Iraq for capability. These will be considered in the continuing work to rebalance the Defence programme.

  • A separate volume of detailed supporting essays and analysis covers the core topics of International Organisations; Military Tasks and Scales of Effort; Reserves; Defence Relations; People; Defence Management; and Industrial Policy.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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