‘Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review’ details how our Armed Forces will be reshaped to tackle emerging and future threats.
There have been two main priorities in the review:
- to ensure that our mission in Afghanistan is protected; and
- to make sure we emerge with a coherent defence capability in 2020.
Afghanistan remains the MOD’s top priority and we will do all we can to ensure success.
Defence cannot continue on an unaffordable footing. The SDSR aims to bring defence plans, commitments and resources into balance so that we have a coherent defence capability and a sustainable defence programme for the future.
Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox, said:
“The front line has been protected because Afghanistan is the Government’s top priority.
“Tough decisions are required to reconfigure our Armed Forces to confront future threats whilst we also tackle the £38bn deficit that has accumulated in the 12 years since the last Defence Review.
“The MOD must become as effective and as efficient as possible. Lord Levene will help me deliver radical reform to streamline the Department.”
Dr Fox has issued a video message on the review to all Defence personnel - see Related Links.
The Permanent Secretary, Sir Bill Jeffrey, and Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, together with the Service Chiefs and other members of the Defence Board, have been closely involved throughout the review.
There will be some major changes to force elements of all three Services to enable them to meet future force structures.
The review will lead to reductions in manpower over the next five years across all three Services and the civilians in Defence:
- the Royal Navy will reduce by around 5,000 personnel;
- the Army by 7,000;
- the RAF by 5,000;
- civilians by 25,000.
No changes will be made to front line Army, Royal Marine or RAF Regiment units while operations in Afghanistan continue.
Other impacts on the three Services will include:
The Royal Navy will have a number of capabilities, including the Trident Force, based around the four Vanguard Class submarines, one of which is always on patrol.
The Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier will give the UK political and military flexibility in responding to crises. It will routinely have 12 Joint Strike Fighters, plus helicopters embarked for operations. The aircraft’s 700-mile (1,100km) range over land and sea will enable it to carry out a broad range of missions.
The Royal Navy will be equipped with 19 frigates and destroyers to protect a naval task group and meet our standing commitments at home and overseas. These will include six new Type 45 destroyers and new Type 26 frigates.
This force, though smaller than currently, will provide military flexibility and choice across a variety of operations from full-scale warfare, through coercion and reassurance, to presence and maritime security (in particular protecting trade and energy supplies).
Seven new Astute Class submarines will contribute to the protection of our nuclear deterrent and naval task groups.
3 Commando Brigade will provide one element of our very high readiness response force.
The Royal Marines will be able to land and sustain a commando group by helicopter, and with protective vehicles, logistics, and command and control support from a specialist landing and command ship.
In order to meet this new structure the Royal Navy will:
- reduce Royal Navy Service personnel by around 5,000 to a total of about 30,000 by 2015, and with an assumption, for now, of a requirement of about 29,000 by 2020;
- decommission HMS Ark Royal immediately;
- decommission either the helicopter landing ship HMS Ocean or HMS Illustrious following a short study of which would provide the most effective helicopter platform capability, and place one landing and command ship at extended readiness;
- decommission four frigates and a Bay Class amphibious support ship; and
- rationalise the Royal Navy estate.
The Army will be structured around five multi-role brigades, each including reconnaissance, armoured, mechanised and light infantry forces with supporting units of equipment and enablers. We will keep one brigade at high readiness available for an intervention operation and four in support to ensure our ability to sustain an enduring stabilisation operation.
The Army will retain 16 Air Assault Brigade, a high readiness intervention brigade with supporting units, trained and equipped to be one of the first ground forces to intervene in a new conflict.
The Army will also retain the ability to command operations at very senior level through the UK-led Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) headquarters (part of NATO). And we will retain our capacity to deliver one UK, fully deployable, senior level (divisional) headquarters, and the ability to regenerate a second deployable divisional headquarters.
In order to meet this new structure the Army will:
- reduce by around 7,000 to about 95,000 personnel by 2015, but with no changes to combat units involved in Afghanistan, and an assumption, for now, of a requirement of about 94,000 by 2020;
- reduce by one the number of deployable brigades, as we restructure to five multi-role brigades;
- reduce our holdings of Challenger 2 tanks by around 40 per cent and our heavy artillery by around 35 per cent;
- significantly reduce our non-deployable regional administrative structure; and
- ationalise our deployable headquarters by reducing the communications and logistics support to Headquarters ARRC and convert the second of our operational divisional headquarters to a force preparation role.
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force’s future capabilities will include a fleet of two of the most capable fast jets anywhere in the world: a modernised multi-role Typhoon fleet and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to provide combat intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities.
It will also have strategic surveillance and intelligence platforms as part of our broader ISTAR capability, including: E-3D Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) to provide airborne command, control and surveillance; Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft to provide independent strategic intelligence gathering; and a range of remotely piloted air systems.
The air transport fleet will be upgraded with the addition of A400M transport aircraft and A330 future strategic tanker and transport aircraft as well as the planned C-17 fleet. These aircraft will enable us to deploy rapidly, support and recover UK forces and their equipment anywhere in the world, and provide airborne refuelling to maximise the range and endurance of our aircraft.
The support helicopter capability (both RAF and RN) will also provide battlefield mobility from land and sea, based on Chinook heavy- and Merlin medium-lift helicopters, able to move personnel and equipment rapidly over considerable distances.
In addition, RAF Regiment force protection squadrons at high readiness will protect deployed aircraft and personnel in hostile areas and provide elements of Defence’s joint CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) detection capabilities.
In order to meet this new structure the Royal Air Force will:
- reduce by around 5,000 personnel to about 33,000 by 2015, and with an assumption, for now, of a requirement of about 31,500 by 2020;
- withdraw the C-130 Hercules transport fleet ten years earlier than planned as we transition to the more capable and larger A400M;
- withdraw the Sentinel surveillance aircraft once it is no longer required to support operations in Afghanistan;
- rationalise the RAF estate;
- retain Tornados, which will continue to operate in Afghanistan;
- remove Harrier from service in the transition to a future fast jet force of Typhoon and JSF. This will mean a gap for carrier fast jet operations. JSF, like Harrier, will be operated jointly by RAF and Royal Navy pilots;
- not bring into service the Nimrod MRA4; and
- withdraw VC-10 and the three variants of TriStar aircraft from 2013 as we transition towards the more capable A330 future strategic transport and tanker aircraft.
A study will be undertaken by the leadership of the Regular forces and Reserves into the future role and structure of the Reserves. We expect this study to take about six months.
Changes on this scale cannot be managed by the usual manning regulators. A redundancy scheme will be run for Service personnel and a paid early release scheme for civilians in accordance with the usual arrangements for such schemes, including - in the case of civilians - consultation with the Trade Unions.
Much effort will now be required to work through the detailed implications of the various SDSR decisions and their implementation.
Part of this will be the work of the Defence Reform Unit, which is looking at the organisation of MOD and will report in July 2011. This will ensure Defence is delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible. Reforms will be implemented as the review progresses.