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Call for Evidence

Call for evidence

In March 2021, the Government published its Defence Command Paper, Defence in a Competitive Age, which described Defence’s contribution to the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy published one week earlier.

The Defence Command Paper outlines critical trends in defence where NATO must provide a response, including, but not limited to:

  • the importance of space and cyberspace
  • the “systemic challenge” posed by China and “acute threat” posed by Russia
  • the weakening of arms control architecture
  • global health crises and climate change
  • the speed, scale and potentially disruptive effect of technological developments
  • the need to deter and constrain hybrid attack on the Alliance.

In response to the challenges outlined in the paper, the Government calls for a modernisation of the armed forces. The proposed changes are aimed at ensuring that the armed forces are “more agile, more lethal and more integrated.”

The Committee’s inquiry will explore how the Government plans to translate its aspirations outlined in the Defence Command Paper and Integrated Review into reality.

The call for evidence

The Committee is calling for written evidence on the questions below. The Committee will use the written evidence received to further shape its inquiry and inform its report.

You do not need to answer all the questions to make a submission. As short submissions are requested (five pages or fewer), you may find you can include more detail by focusing only on a subset of questions.

General

1) Does the Defence Command Paper respond to the goals set by the Integrated Review? Are both documents aligned? Are there areas which are not adequately addressed by the Defence Command Paper?

2) Does the assessment of what the UK can do outlined in the Defence Command Paper match with the UK’s defence capabilities? Are these capabilities adequate for the current and likely future challenges the UK faces (taking into consideration lessons learned from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine)?

Assessment of the Armed Forces

3) What types of warfare are the UK Armed Forces currently prepared to respond to? What is the appropriate balance between hybrid, conventional, and nuclear capabilities, based on expected future threats and challenges? Are the existing UK Armed Forces delivering on their full potential given the resources they receive, will they do so in future, and are additional resources required given the strategic environment?

4) How do the UK’s capabilities compare with the assessment and plans made by other NATO countries? How is the UK seeking to influence NATO’s strategy in this regard?

5) The Defence Command Paper sets out a reduction in the overall number of military personnel, including a commitment to reduce the size of the Army to 72,500 by 2025, scrapping the previous target (set in 2015) of 82,000. Is this an adequate size for the challenges the UK faces? Beyond ‘headline’ troop numbers, what is the appropriate balance between quantity and quality of both personnel and materiel across the Armed Forces?

6) What is your assessment of the Secretary of State’s Office of Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC), established (in its current form) in December 2020? How important will SONAC be in achieving the ambitions of the Defence Command Paper?

7) To what extent will cultural change within the Armed Forces need to happen to assure a successful implementation of the goals set out by the Defence Command Paper? Please give examples of policies or approaches which may benefit from cultural, institutional, or procedural change.

Threats below the threshold of war

8) How are threats below the threshold of war defined by the Government and other stakeholders? What defence/security capabilities will be required to respond effectively to these challenges, and is the UK well placed to develop and deploy these capabilities?

9) How can the UK and allies (in particular NATO and the EU) best ensure that threats remain ‘sub-threshold’, rather than escalating into violent conflict? What are the key risks and pathways for escalation from ‘sub-threshold’ hostility to open warfare? Conversely, how can conventional/nuclear capabilities deter ‘hybrid’ conflict (and escalation thereof)?

Impact of the war in Ukraine

10) Has the Russian invasion of Ukraine posed challenges already anticipated, or new ones? Has the invasion changed the assessment of the risk of conventional versus ‘subthreshold’/‘grey-zone’ threats? Are the priorities set out in the Defence Command Paper still sensible?

11) Is the Integrated Review’s aspiration for UK strategy to ‘tilt’ to the Indo-Pacific – as discussed further in the Defence Command Paper – still viable in an era of direct military threat to Europe? If so, how should the ‘tilt’ be manifested militarily and how should the balance between European and extra-European commitments be struck?

12) How will Russia’s invasion of Ukraine change European security, in particular NATO and its Member States? What does it mean for the evolution of the UK’s key defence alliances, including the US, France and Germany? Are any extra-European military commitments – such as the AUKUS and FPDA arrangements, military cooperation with Japan, standing commitments in the Middle East, or others – affected by the deterioration of the European security environment?

Research, development and innovation

The Integrated Review identified ‘sustaining strategic advantage through science and technology’ as one of its four overarching objectives. The Ministry of Defence’s contribution to this objective, as outlined by the Defence Capabilities Review, rests on three pillars, all of which are supported by the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy:

  • National Cyber Force
  • Investment of at least £6.6bn in R&D until 2025
  • A network of innovation hubs and Defence and Security Accelerator challenges

13) Is the overall trade-off between reduced military mass in the short term in order to invest in longer-term development of cutting-edge technologies an appropriate one? How can the balance between currently useable capability and future innovation be best optimised?

14) What is your assessment of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) and the role it could play in defence innovation and R&D? With a planned budget of £800 million, to what extent could it replicate the research and innovation successes of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency? How will it interact – if at all – with the MoD’s existing scientific capacity, such as the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE)?

15) How should the proposed “innovation hubs” work in practice? How should they be connected to existing R&D programmes and initiatives?

16) Technological innovation in the defence sector requires cooperation between the MoD, academia and industry. How successful has the MoD been at building and maintaining these relationships to date? To what extent is cultural, institutional, or procedural change needed to ensure the defence sector can deliver the ambitions of the Defence Command Paper?

ANNEX: GUIDANCE FOR SUBMISSIONS

Submissions should be made through the online form at: https://committees.parliament.uk/submission/#/evidence/2602/preamble

This is a public call for evidence. Please bring this document to the attention of groups and individuals who may not have received a copy direct, including those who have not previously engaged with Parliament.

The deadline for making a written submission has been extended to  is 23.59 on Friday 1 July 2022.

Concise submissions are preferred. Responses should not be longer than five sides of A4 in size 12 font. There is no requirement to answer all questions in your submission. Paragraphs should be numbered.

All submissions made through the written submission form will be acknowledged automatically by email.

Submissions which are accepted by the committee as written evidence may be published online at any stage. When it is published as written evidence a submission becomes subject to parliamentary copyright and is protected by parliamentary privilege. The Committee cannot accept any submissions that have not been prepared specifically in response to this call for evidence, or that have been published elsewhere.

Once your submission has been accepted as evidence you will be notified by a further email, and at this point you may publicise or publish it yourself. In doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the committee, and you should be aware that your publication or re-publication of your evidence may not be protected by parliamentary privilege.

Personal contact details will be removed from evidence before publication, but will be retained by the Committee Office and may used for specific purposes relating to the committee’s work—for instance to seek additional information.

The committee may invite individuals and groups who have submitted written evidence, as well as others, to answer questions in a public session. They are broadcast online and transcripts are also taken and published.

Substantive communications to the committee about the inquiry should be addressed to the clerk of the committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute a formal written submission.

Diversity comes in many forms and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome.

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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