The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy defines the UK Government’s vision for the nation’s role in the world over the next decade. The aim is to set the long-term strategic goals for international policy and national security.
The Integrated Review covers all aspects of international and national security policy, such as defence, diplomacy, development and national resilience.
The Integrated Review has the bold ambition to deliver the deepest and most far-reaching reassessment of the UK's international, defence, diplomacy, development and national security strategy since the end of the Cold War, looking beyond defence alone to explore the UK’s role in the world.
Bringing together the themes of people, prosperity, purpose and planet, the Integrated Review outlines the need for greater integration across Whitehall, better use of information and technology, and for greater outreach to partners and allies for critical capabilities. It sets out how the UK can make the once-in-a-generation change to build the global role we want in the post-Brexit world, where COVID-19 has shaken us out of entrenched working models.
As part of the Government consultation process, we responded to their call for evidence. Our viewpoints below capture our response in advance of, and in response to, the publication of the Integrated Review, including PA's defence and security expert Cate Pye's interview on Sky News' Ian King Live.
Resilience embeds the control of risks (such as malicious threats and natural hazards) with the readiness to respond and recover quickly from emergencies and disruption. It requires government, industry, communities and individuals to co-ordinate resources and skills, and the establishment of a reserve of volunteers trained in resilience who can rapidly mobilise in an emergency.
The information age offers a new path to global influence through information advantage, tackling emerging threats such as hybrid warfare, disinformation, and online harms. The Integrated Review presents an opportunity to place far greater emphasis on the first three steps in the observe, orientate, decide, act (OODA) loop – the concept that the actor who completes the loop fastest, or can get inside their opponent's decision-making cycle, will gain the advantage.
The UK's cyber infrastructure and skills aptitude base is vital to protecting and promoting it as a secure place to live and work. The pace of change of technology, and the cyber threat and opportunity that accompanies it, means the UK has to be able to constantly adapt and improve to stay ahead of our adversaries. Both technology and skills offer an important channel of global influence by helping to tackle emerging threats, as well as exerting more proactive measures when the need arises.
In December 2019, world leaders welcomed the recognition of space as the fifth operational domain – alongside air, land, sea and cyberspace. The ability to exert global influence through space capabilities is now widely recognised, as is the need to counter space threats posed by adversaries. With its world-leading aerospace engineering expertise, the UK has an opportunity to capitalise on the economicindustrial space technology boom, and to build and shape the systems and regimes that will provide and protect sovereign information advantage.
Following nearly two decades of 'upstream' military intervention to contain threats such as terrorism and drugs production before they reached the UK's shores, recent experience has increased the focus on home-grown threats such as radicalisation, lone-actor terrorism and serious organised crime. This has raised awareness of the role of illicit finance as the universal enabler for terrorism, crime and many state-sponsored threats. And yet, the structure of the UK's security and policing sector is largely unreformed, numbering over 70 independent organisations, all pursuing broadly similar capabilities, and competing for the same scarce skills and talent, albeit to meet different mission priorities.
Building a high-value, knowledge-based economy will call for a workforce and education strategy that prioritises cyber, space and modern technologies. The UK will need to create more attractive career paths for digital, data and technology specialists and the ability to move easily between Government and industry. This would lead to lasting links between Government, public sector and academia as they develop varied careers in challenging roles.
China’s increasing assertiveness, and the rapid economic growth of the Indo-Pacific region is re-shaping the established world order. To achieve the UK Government’s ambition for a ‘Global Britain’, new approaches will be required: building partnerships with non-traditional allies, deepening existing relationships, and alongside ‘hard power’, better harnessing the power of cultural, scientific and industrial influence.
The UK remains a cultural superpower, exporting fashion, literature, film and music, and is a centre for design and innovation that benefits from the ubiquity of the English language. This will be a tough lever of statecraft for the traditional 'military-industrial complex' to fully grasp, yet it represents one of the most potent opportunities to capitalise on a watershed generational shift.
In 2020 there have been Australian wildfires, school children striking over climate change, a global pandemic and the effects of climate change worsening. We've also seen marked improvements in air quality following sharp falls in emissions as the number of journeys by vehicles and planes was significantly cut during lockdown. This has shown a glimpse of the cleaner, healthier environment possible if the world shifts away from fossil fuels.
For a DIS to be impactful, it must engender an industrial base that is every bit as adaptive as the Armed Forces need to be. While achieving this is easier said than done, the 2021 Integrated Review and DIS provide a pivotal opportunity to establish an adaptive defence enterprise by designing for flexibility, collaborating across public-private boundaries and building confidence through action.