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British defence policy often appears to be a complex construct, surrounded by confusing technicalities. But it is not difficult to understand if the essential anatomy is properly understood. This book distinguishes the six most important elements in British defence policy – its essential anatomy – and outlines each of them using the most up to date information and statistics. It examines the costs of defence policy, the equipment choices, the personnel and human factors that make up military forces, the operational experience of British forces since the Cold War, the strategic policymaking structures for defence and finally the plausible futures it faces. Throughout this anatomy a series of difficult policy questions, as well as a number of broader conceptual challenges, constantly recur and in the final chapter on ‘futures’ these questions are drawn together in a critique of current British defence policy. This book is intended to take the atmosphere of technical obscurity – and much of the jargon – out of a wide range of highly specialised defence studies literature and distil it to give the reader a way of understanding this particular policy sector and the tools with which to make their own judgements about Britain’s defence policy during the current era.
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is the site of the largest mass repression of an ethnic and/or religious minority in the world today. Researchers estimate that since 2016 one million people have been detained there without trial. In the detention centres individuals are exposed to deeply invasive forms of surveillance and psychological stress, while outside them more than ten million Turkic Muslim minorities are subjected to a network of hi-tech surveillance systems, checkpoints, and interpersonal monitoring. Existing reportage and commentary on the crisis tends to address these issues in isolation, but this groundbreaking volume brings them together, exploring the interconnections between the core strands of the Xinjiang emergency in order to generate a more accurate understanding of the mass detentions’ significance for the future of President Xi Jinping’s China.
The geopolitics of Britain’s immediate neighbourhood in Europe and the Middle East are changing quickly and the certainty over what challenges might be anticipated in the near future is diminishing. Britain has some defence virtues in addressing these uncertainties, but also significant weaknesses in its defence posture. It may have less time to address these weaknesses than it had traditionally assumed. In particular, Brexit Britain faces a range of scenarios, from the favourable to the very unfavourable, and there is a strong case for making an immediate investment in defence, intelligence, foreign policy, foreign aid and research elements in British security policy to help tip the scales towards more favourable outcomes.
The chapter focuses on: the special qualities required by personnel in the armed forces and the ways they are ingrained into service personnel; the differences between service and civilian life, which are increasing in modern society; the size and shape of the front-line forces and the different roles that the Army, Navy and RAF play in British defence policy; and the intelligence services that are intrinsic to the efficient operation of armed forces and the roles of the Special Forces which provide Britain with a unique cutting edge in the use of military force.
British forces have been on constant active service since the end of the Cold War in a number of different operations. The politics behind these operations changed from essentially status quo motivations to something more offensive and assertive that became unsustainable after 2006, as the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan ran into trouble. In 2015 a period of retrenchment began which leaves British armed forces reorienting themselves for a more uncertain future. The economic and human costs of these operations have not been especially great from a British point of view but the relationship between tactical military success and the achievement of stated political objectives has been partial, at best. Not least, the nuclear deterrent forces operate a permanent and different type of operation altogether. It is specialist and very challenging, but this element in British defence policy always was, and still remains, highly controversial.
British defence policy in under constant review, but it is not well served by broader strategic thinking. Recent calls for a more complete and coherent strategic approach to policy have not been properly answered, even accepting the fact that strategy is not an easy discipline to apply to the reality of daily politics. The chapter considers Britain’s National Security Council structure and its adequacy to provide a ‘strategic brain’ for Britain’s defence. There are myriad security challenges that middle-rank powers such as Britain now have to address, and the problem for strategic decision-making involves the ability to shift considerable resources to address new problems as they arise.
This chapter considers the need to understand the uniqueness of the process of defence procurement and its special market conditions. This is vital in appreciating the falling numbers of weapons platforms available to British forces and the need to understand how new generations of defence equipment figure in relation to what they are replacing. The current ten-year British defence equipment programme and the problems inherent in making it sustainable are considered. The chapter also looks at the perception that military equipment forms a ‘baroque arsenal’, set against the reality that there are some elements of military equipment that are impossible to replicate in other ways.
Britain is still one of the significant defence spenders in the world, even though it spends considerably less in relative terms than in the past. Defence spending is only one part of what Britain spends on its security more generally, which in 2017 was around £45 billion per annum. Nevertheless, there have been persistent ‘black holes’ in the defence budget and the question arises as to whether defence is a different type of expenditure compared to expenditure in other areas of government and whether the British government has really spent 2% of GDP on defence as it is obligated through NATO to do.
This book is written for those who want to understand the basics of defence policy, and particularly of British defence policy for the coming era. The essential anatomy of what governments call ‘defence policy’ is not difficult to categorise. It consists of the money that is allocated to it; the equipment the armed forces have to operate; the personnel they deploy; their operational experience; their strategies for defence and their expectations of whatever they think they will face in the future. This is the six-part anatomy that makes up the essential body of the policy
This chapter undertakes two major tasks. First, it attempts to provide a conceptual entry-point into exploring the Xinjiang emergency. It does so by arguing that the trajectory of the party-state’s governance of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has been profoundly shaped by dynamics of colonialism, settler colonialism, and associated state-building that have provided the bases for a transition towards cultural genocide in the XUAR as a means of resolving China’s ‘Xinjiang problem’. Second, the chapter then provides an overview of the structure of and individual contributions to this volume.