FOREWORD - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 31
Admiral Sir Alan West GCB DSC ADC - First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff
The Strategic Defence Review, the New Chapter and the subsequent White Paper all contained clear evidence of our need to transform and modernise. The strategic environment has changed: the threat of attack remains but in a different, more unpredictable form. Nevertheless, the war you plan for is rarely the one you fight, and it remains important that we maintain the capability necessary to conduct high intensity warfare. To meet the new threats and risks that have emerged, the Royal Navy’s main focus has shifted from the open ocean to littoral operations involving joint force projection from the sea on to the land. New ships, submarines, aircraft and other equipment coming into service in the next few years will complete the process of transformation of the Royal Navy into a modern, versatile and flexible force capable of swinging between roles, from disaster relief, protection of shipping, through peace-keeping, to high intensity warfare.
We have also worked hard to ensure that we have the right structures in place to support the Navy of the future and have been at the forefront of achieving the efficiencies that we as a department need to make to ensure that we provide best value for money. The Naval Estate has been rationalised into a handful of modern, efficient training and support establishments, and our ongoing rationalisation of the HQ organisation into a single TLB will result in further considerable savings. Effectively, we are doing much more with less. During the last three years, the Navy Board’s Personnel Change Programme has also started to deliver the changes that we need to make to our personnel structure to ensure that we have the right skill sets to man the Navy of the future. Together with improvements being made to conditions of service, living conditions, training, health and welfare, I am confident that the Royal Navy will be viewed as a modern, first class employer and that we will continue to attract top quality people.
This year, we have commemorated the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the life of Admiral Lord Nelson, who, after two centuries, still remains one of our nation’s greatest military commanders and a shining example to all who serve in the Royal Navy. Much may have changed in the last two centuries but the Royal Navy remains as relevant as ever as we counter the threats to the maritime domain, which is so vital to the global economy – 90% of world trade is moved by sea and 30% of the world’s oil and gas comes from off-shore structures. In addition to this and contributing to current operations, the Royal Navy is constantly engaged in a myriad of tasks, from the provision of Britain’s Independent Nuclear Deterrent, through counter drug operations, the ‘Global War on Terror’ and fishery protection, to defence diplomacy around the world.
The Royal Navy is very different from the Service I joined 40 years ago, but the maritime environment remains fundamental to the wealth and security of our nation, and we must be ready to project power far from our shores in order to protect our interests at home. We are modern, relevant, capable and resilient, and the strong maritime capability we are developing is crucial for the UK’s wellbeing, as well as being a force for good in a troubled world.