Defence experts, senior academics and former high-ranking officers have reacted angrily to the Ministry of Defence agreeing to take into consideration any recommendations they may have for the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 (SDSR 2015) providing they are limited to 1500 characters. Watchdogs and members of the political opposition claimed that the conditional agreement offered by the Conservative government and Ministry of Defence is little more than a public relations effort. The limit means that any recommendations made in the online form produced by the government can be no more than 300 words in total.
The online form became available last week but even before it was realised there was such a small limit there were calls for the SDSR to be extended in to next year in order to allow enough time to properly assess the entire spectrum of British defence requirements. As it stands the current SDSR is expected to be published by the end of October leading many to question whether David Cameron’s government has already decided on how it wants to invest in defence and that the SDSR is merely formalising those decisions.
Following the brutal cuts of the previous SDSR in 2010 many within the UK’s wider defence community are concerned that the government is not adequately assessing all of the military’s needs which could lead to losses in capability. Among the assets lost in the 2010 review was the Nimrod maritime patrol force which left Britain extremely vulnerable to submarine incursions in British territorial waters; a situation that remains to this day. Earlier this week the Royal Navy asked for an increase of personnel by 2500 sailors in order to suitably man the new aircraft carriers coming in to service. In the 2010 review over 6000 sailors were made redundant.