The following is the July 18, 2023, U.K. Ministry of Defence white paper, Defence’s response to a more contested and volatile world.
From the report
- 1. The refreshed Integrated Review (IRR) published in March 2023 identified that the transition into a multipolar, fragmented and contested world had happened more quickly and definitively than anticipated in the original Integrated Review. In response to this changing threat context, the IRR set out a new approach through an updated strategic framework delivered through four pillars:
(a) Shape the international environment. Shaping, balancing, competing and cooperating across the main arenas of systemic competition, working with all who support an open and stable international order and the protection of global public goods.
(b) Deter, defend and compete across all domains. Accelerating the ongoing shift to an integrated approach to deterrence and defence, to counter both state threats and transnational security challenges. NATO is at the core of this effort, but we are clear that – given the changing threat picture – effective deterrence will mean working through other groupings and beyond the Euro-Atlantic theatre. Further, a renewed emphasis on the concept of strategic stability – establishing new frameworks and building a new international security architecture to manage systemic competition and escalation in a multipolar environment.
(c) Address vulnerabilities through resilience. Developing the UK’s approach to resilience, shifting to a long-term campaign to address the vulnerabilities that leave the UK exposed to crises and hostile actors. This will strengthen the UK’s deterrence by denial and ensure that operational activity under pillar two can be focused where it has the greatest impact.
(d) Generate strategic advantage. Building on IR2021’s focus on strategic advantage – the UK’s relative ability to achieve our objectives compared to our competitors. In a more contested environment, this is indispensable to maintaining the UK’s freedom of action, freedom from coercion and our ability to cooperate with others and is the underpinning for the other pillars of the strategic framework.
- The IRR recognised that the global security environment required us both to act now and plan for the long-term. Therefore, in the Spring Budget the Government agreed that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) would receive a further £5 billion of additional funding over two years – in addition to the £24 billion received in cash terms (over four years) in 2020. This means that for the first time, the MOD’s budget is now more than £50 billion a year – a clear sign of the importance placed on our contribution to the nation’s security and prosperity. Furthermore, the Prime Minister has set out an aspiration over the longer term to invest 2.5% of GDP in Defence, as the fiscal and economic circumstances allow.
- As we have seen starkly over the last sixteen months, the repercussions – and costs – of responding after threats manifest into conflict are immeasurably greater than if 6 Defence’s response to a more contested and volatile world
those threats are adequately deterred or prevented in the first place. In this more contested world, deterrence is more important than ever, underpinned by the capabilities and alliances that will enable us to fight and win if needed.
In short, hard power matters.
Download the document here.