SDSR: The Strategic Defence and Security Review (2015)

SDSR: The Strategic Defence and Security Review (2015)

by Dr Tristram Riley-Smith

HMG’s new SDSR has been published. It is framed by four challenges: the increasing threat posed by terrorism, extremism and instability; the resurgence of state-based threats; the impact of technology; and the erosion of a rules-based international order. 

Everyone in the PaCCS community should read the review: there is lots of interest and relevance to our work.

The following points caught my eye (but this is a personal list, paying scant regard to important decisions regarding the Armed Forces):

  • Migration is a global challenge, linked to growing instability overseas;
    • the UK’s border, immigration and citizenship systems need to cope better;
  • Serious & Organised Crime costs the nation over £24bn a year; its severity grows as more transactions take place on line, and as internet access expands across Africa and Asia;
    • HMG will focus on tackling gangs that pose the greatest threats; key targets include illegal firearms, modern slavery & immigration crime, illicit finance, and child sexual exploitation;
  • The range of cyber threats grows, with state adversaries deploying advanced capabilities and non-state actors gaining access to tools and technology for destructive purposes;
    • A new National Cyber Centre will improve the nation’s ability to respond;
    • a new National Cyber Security Strategy and five-year programme appear in 2016;
    • there is to be a £20m call for an Institute of Coding, to develop digital and computer science skills in the UK;
  • The UK’s counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) is to be updated in 2016; meanwhile:
    • £2.9bn is to be invested in additional staff and capabilities for the Security & Intelligence Agencies;
    • there is a commitment to strike against terrorist threats overseas, with new investment in Special Forces’ intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and strike capabilities;
    • there is to be investment in protecting our transport systems, with a doubling of expenditure on aviation security around the world;
  • innovation is to be supported in different ways, including support for the Security Innovation Demonstration Centre, the creation of an Emerging Technology and Innovation Analysis Cell (with close links to academia) and two cyber innovation centres;
  • A new, virtual, National Security Academy will act as a hub for the Diplomatic College, the Defence Academy, the Emergency Planning College and the College of Policing to develop and share knowledge and skills.

There are great opportunities, associated with all of the above, for the PaCCS research-base to deliver impact, through illuminating the decisions of policy-makers and practitioners or through developing new tools and techniques to make the world a safer place.

We’ll play our part – as PaCCS Champion – to make connections and support engagement and knowledge exchange.

Dr Tristram Riley-Smith is External Champion, RCUK Partnership for Conflict, Crime & Security Research, and Director of Research, Department of Politics & International Studies, University of Cambridge