The National Security Strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010 set out our goal to bring together and use all the instruments of national power in a coordinated way.
The International Defence Engagement Strategy (IDES) was launched by the defence and foreign Secretaries in 2013, and describes how defence supports wider HMG interests within an integrated approach, bringing together all the levers available to deliver National Security Strategy (NSS) objectives.
Now, 2 years on, implementation of the IDES has shown that the UK’s defence assets have greater utility in maintaining our security and prosperity beyond the threat or use of lethal force. Defence engagement (DE) allows defence (alongside other instruments of national power) to shape the environment, promote the rules based international order and prevent instability in support of the UK’s security and prosperity.
Defence engagement activity is wide ranging. It is a smarter use of Defence personnel, assets and activities, focused to where UK can deliver greater impact in support of HMG interests, including through generating influence with partner countries. Those directly involved in delivering DE include Defence Attachés, civilian defence advisors, Loan Service personnel, overseas exchange and liaison officers, permanently established overseas training teams and those who deliver our prized international defence training and education, as well as those who run specific projects. This wide range of activity is being conducted worldwide, while at the same time ensuring it is provided in a way that serves the interests of the MOD and of wider government. Defence, including all of the single services, is developing relationships and influence over a longer term 20 year horizon, to achieve our objectives in a period of significant uncertainty and change.
Having UK defence personnel engaged with other nations on conflict prevention, security sector reform and capacity building, increases our national capacity to identify and understand potential threats to peace and security early on. Engaging in upstream conflict prevention also ensures that we are in a better position to respond more effectively if and when conflict occurs. This has proven to be a key factor in maintaining and influencing our relationships with both traditional and emerging allies and partners.