137. We have been concerned throughout our inquiry
that there has been a lack of clarity over how we will pay for
the additional responsibilities, roles and capabilities which
our Armed Forces may be asked to take on in the aftermath of the
11 September attacks. The Policy Director assured us that in doing
the further work on the SDR he was faced with no financial constraints:
... we are going to do the work based on what we
think is needed and very much at the end ... we shall see what
additions might be necessary.
138. Although this might seem encouraging, we must
not forget that our starting point is that the necessary resources
to implement all the commitments under the original SDR are not
yet available. Indeed, the MoD's Performance Report 2000-01
noted that there remain many areas of capability with weaknesses,
with 'manpower and equipment shortages ... the biggest challenges'.
And the Chief of Defence Staff recently acknowledged
True that expeditionary operations stretch us a lot;
true that many of the enablers for SDR have been late in coming
and in some cases are still awaited; true that we find ourselves
committed to more operations than originally intended; and true
that parts of the system have not yet adjusted to new approaches.
Sir Tim Garden described the SDR tasks as 'under-resourced'.
He feared that the new chapter would befor the budget of
the Armed Forces as a wholea zero sum game. When challenged
on this, the Secretary of State replied
I cannot say precisely what the conclusions of this
will be ... We will do the work, we will identify the priorities,
we will then have to make judgements as to what are the overriding
priorities for the Department within the resource constraints
that all Government departments face.
139. We recognise that the Secretary of State is
constrained in what he can say. There is a spending review currently
underway whose results are expected to be announced in the summer
of next year. But there is an urgency to the present situation
and a point of principle which we believe justifies an earlier
statement. As Sir Tim Garden reminded us, 'the primary role of
Government is the protection of its citizens.'
We have seen how the attacks of 11 September have both changed
our understanding of what that involves and, in the United States
at least, demonstrated how a public's confidence in its government's
ability to deliver that protection can be challenged. The United
States administration has taken prompt action in response and
has already made available up to $40 billion in Emergency Supplementary
Appropriations, of which $13 billion so far has been committed
for Department of Defense measures.
140. We cannot say authoritatively that there are
not somewhere one or more capabilities proposed under the original
SDR which might now be considered unnecessary. Sir Tim Garden
for example suggested that there might not any longer be a need
for the British Army to have a significant element of tanks (the
Army currently has just over 600 tanks,
compared with around 1200 in November 1990).
Others have argued that we may not now need as many as 232 Eurofighter
Typhoons. Sir Tim argued that the UK had traditionally seen a
need to keep a 'broad range of capabilities ... a little of everything.'
141. One answer to this dilemma might be to increase
the amount of military role-sharing with allies, or perhaps less
contentiously 'pooling' of military capabilties. But when we put
this to the Secretary of State, while he seemed enthusiastic about
the steps taken by some of our allies amongst themselves in this
he did not seem to think it was relevant in the same way to the
... first and foremost in the United Kingdom we must
maintain a range of capabilities that we require ultimately to
defend the United Kingdom but [also] to defend its interests and
participate where we can in coalitions of the willing around the
We do not dissent from that, but we believe that,
if it is to be our policy to maintain such a range of capabilities,
it follows that we must be prepared to pay for them. If we are
to add a chapter to the SDR, we must add the money to pay for
it. The further work on the SDR is going to run on into the
spring or early summer. The results of the spending review are
not expected until the summer. The government should therefore
make an early commitment that it will find the necessary extra
money to fund those additional capabilities which may be identified
as necessary in the light of the attacks of 11 September.