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Strategic Planning

Volume 525: debated on Monday 14 March 2011

At departmental level, strategic planning is overseen by the director general, strategy. He has 51 military and 75 civilian staff, and an overall budget for 2010-11 of some £12 million. If my hon. Friend is interested, I recommend that she should read the excellent report by the Select Committee on Administration.

I have certainly read the executive summary. Does the Secretary of State agree that we should continue to maintain a focus on building our risk assessment strategic planning and scenario capacity, to ensure that we can anticipate the future in a changing environment and the threats to our national interest?

My hon. Friend is entirely right, and that is why in the strategic defence and security review we chose an adaptable posture for the UK’s defence and security. We specifically rejected the concepts of fortress Britain or an over-committed Britain, which would result in a lack of agility. The events of recent days have shown how unpredictable the external environment can be. That is why we were correct to maintain that flexibility and agility in our armed forces.

A week ago 50 senior military figures called for the SDSR to be reopened. They signed a letter saying that the SDSR

“seems to have been driven by financial rather than military considerations”.

However, when the Secretary of State gave evidence to the Defence Select Committee last week, he refused to deny reports that the Ministry of Defence was facing another £1 billion of cuts. Is it not becoming clear that it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who is in the driving seat in the MOD, not the Secretary of State?

If we have financial difficulties in the MOD or elsewhere in the Government, we know where they came from. When we look across what we do in the Ministry of Defence—and, indeed, in the rest of Government —we look to see what risks the UK may face and how we might best mitigate them. We have decided that the United Kingdom needs an adaptable posture, and we have therefore decided to build flexibility into the programmes leading to Future Force 2020, which I believe provides the best security for this country.