The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published a new international defence engagement strategy, revealing how non-operational assets and activities will be refocused towards contributing to wider government objectives in the future.
Jointly developed with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office in consultation with other government departments, the strategy outlines how all the country’s non-combat international defence efforts will be focused on countries significant to its national interests.
UK defence secretary Philip Hammond said: "This strategy is welcome at a time of limited financial resources, providing a means to focus our assets and activities such that we can make an even greater contribution to securing a safe and prosperous future for the UK."
The 20-year non-combat strategy involves four pillars of defence, which include defence diplomacy, support to operations, exports, and building regional stability.
UK foreign secretary William Hague said: "The publication of the international defence engagement strategy will help the UK work more effectively to deliver our foreign policy objectives, delivering an integrated approach drawing on all of the levers of power across government."
Initial examples of the strategy in practice have already emerged, with the MoD referring to the establishing of a new Defence Attaché and Defence Section in the British Embassy in Burma, in addition to a Defence Section in Juba, South Sudan.
Providing training assistance to the Libyan navy and air force, helping the establishment of bomb disposal and defence language schools, and plans to set up a new Defence Section in the new British Embassy in Mogadishu, Somalia, are also being considered.
The MoD is also exploring options of using army capabilities for a multitude of defence engagement tasks and will pilot this as the service restructures its Adaptable Force Brigades as part of the Army 2020 initiative.
The strategy is in accordance with the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which sets out a vision for an integrated approach to addressing the country’s international objectives.
Image: UK defence secretary Phillip Hammond. Photo: courtesy of Harland Quarrington, Ministry of Defence.