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March 22, 2008

First U.K. National Security Strategy
Posted by Shawn Brimley

Our friends across the pond have published their first ever National Security Strategy, titled "Security in an Interdependent World." While one could easily criticize both the U.K. and American versions for being essentially public relations documents, I believe they are useful as a way to gauge how a government sees itself contributing to the protection of their people.

The U.K. NSS lists a series of "Guiding Principles:"

  1. Our approach to national security is clearly grounded in a set of core values;
  2. We will be hard-headed about the risks, our aims, and our capabilities;
  3. Whenever possible, we will tackle security challenges early;
  4. Overseas, we will favor a multilateral approach;
  5. At home, we will favor a partnership approach;
  6. Inside government, we will develop a more integrated approach;
  7. We will retain strong, balanced and flexible capabilities; and
  8. We will continue to invest, learn and improve to strengthen our security.

Overall, nothing truly earth-shattering, but an interesting and useful effort.

You can read it here, and a news account from the Guardian here.


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The Brits sound like American wannabes, when in truth (as a US precursor?) the British Empire is increasingly in shambles. The 98,500-strong army is short of 5,000 soldiers. There are already more than 7,000 foreign citizens serving in the British armed forces, including more than 3,000 Gurkhas from Nepal, 2,000 Fijians, and several hundred South Africans, Ghanaians and Zimbabweans. They are now considering allowing Poles living in Britain to join. The latest indignity is their withdrawal from Basra, Iraq to the nearby airport where they are under constant attack.

Since 1987 the Royal Navy has, under both Tory and Labour governments, suffered cuts that have reduced it by 42 per cent. The Navy has lost 54 per cent of its frigates and destroyers (down from 54 in 1987 to 25 today and soon just 20) plus 66 per cent of its submarines (down from 38 nuclear-powered and conventional boats in 1987 to just 13 attack boats and Trident submarines today). The Royal Navy is about to further reduce surface combatant force by 20% in a single year by removing four Type 22 frigates and one Type 23 frigate from the existing fleet.

That's okay, because as PM Brown said: "the risks we face have, in recent decades, changed beyond recognition". If they can't recognize the risks, what's the use. Even so, a national security forum will be set up and a 'register of risks' will be published. Under the civil d