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Think tank: Our most devastating weapon is agility

From a Times article by Professor Michael Clarke, Director of the Royal United Services Insititute:

 

Our services must get smarter to cope with today’s threats

It is said that British military personnel always follow their officers, if only out of curiosity. At the moment their curiosity might also be classed as morbid as they wonder where their commanders want to take them. They all know that big change is coming. A crucial defence review is only months away.

The armed forces are already doing more operations, and for longer, than was envisaged in the last defence review, in 1998. The forward defence plan is unaffordable within current spending plans, there will be a big squeeze on the public finances from 2011 and we are committed to a difficult war in Afghanistan that will get more expensive before it gets any cheaper. The fighting troops know something will have to give. Defence can expect to be cut by anything up to 15% — perhaps more — in the next four years and the military is likely to take a 20% or so cut in combat units. ...

The philosopher’s stone of modern defence planning is to be able to produce forces that, chameleon-like, can adapt to their immediate environment rapidly and, if necessary, change themselves fundamentally within a few years. There is no reason in principle why British armed forces should not be able to do this; they are in a much better position than their European counterparts.

But the trade-offs are severe...


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