FOREWORD - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 58
Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Defence
The first priority for defence remains delivering on operations in Afghanistan. When Britain's Armed Forces are deployed in dangerous circumstances, our first duty is to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to succeed – and that is what we are doing.
But the end of combat operations is now in sight and, intellectually, we have moved on to look beyond 2014 at the shape of the forces we will need for the future: forces ready to deal with the unexpected and unplanned, rather than the more predictable rhythms of the Telic and Herrick campaigns, and transformed to protect national security in the volatile global security environment of the future. And we are doing this against a background of fiscal constraint and the legacy of mismanagement in the defence budget.
It has required tough decisions to put our armed forces on a sustainable future footing, including reducing personnel numbers, retiring some capabilities, and taking some calculated and managed risks. But the future force we are building, though smaller, will be well-equipped and well-trained – supported by the fourth largest defence budget in the world and with an equipment programme that offers a high level of confidence that we will deliver it. This gives our armed forces the ability to plan for the future with confidence.
Central to sustainability has to be transformation of the management of defence. Tighter resources require greater efficiency; new structures require new ways of delivering. With the direction provided by Lord Levene's Defence Reform Review and the hard work put in over the last year by the management team, we now have a blueprint for the future operation of defence. This includes renewing the way strategic direction is provided, pushing authority and accountability down the chain of command to encourage innovation and budgetary responsibility. We are also developing a new approach to the procurement of defence equipment, which seeks to instil private sector disciplines to our acquisition process, driving up productivity.
Taken together, this adds up to the biggest and most complex change programme being undertaken anywhere in Britain. The objective is to maintain highly capable, agile armed forces, with fully integrated reserves, supported by balanced budgets, disciplined processes, with an efficient and effective Department of State behind them. We will also require more from the contractors who do so much to keep our armed forces trained, equipped, and supported both at home and in the field.
So the challenge is great, and only with the military, civilians and contractors working together will the transformation of defence be successful, and the security of the nation protected.