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Refreshed UK Defence Command Paper sets out future for UK Armed Forces

A £2.5 billion ($4.77 billion) investment in stockpiles and a Global Response Force are behind a refreshed plan to improve the warfighting readiness of the British Armed Forces The UK’s Defence Command Paper Refresh (DCP23) takes learnings from the war in Ukraine and wider threats to British security and sets out a plan to deliver a credible warfighting force that will keep the United Kingdom on track to act as a global heavyweight both now and in the future.

It follows the publication of the Integrated Review refresh earlier this year, which identified Russia as the most acute threat to British security, recognised China as a long-term systemic challenge, and predicted a more adversarial international system.

The DCP23 outlines how the British Armed Forces will modernise and adapt to the changing global picture and, in particular, we will prioritise investment in science and technology to ensure we have a force greater than the sum of our parts.

It sets out:

  • An additional £2.5 billion investment into UK stockpiles and munitions, on top of the increased investment committed at the Autumn Statement
  • A Global Response Force that enables the UK to ‘get there first’, bringing together deployed and high-readiness forces, and drawing on capabilities from all domains
  • How the UK Ministry of Defence (UKMoD) will become a science and technology superpower, enhancing the nation’s capabilities in fields such as robotics, human augmentation, directed energy weapons and advanced materials, to gain the edge on the battlefield
  • An improved surge capacity through the UK’s Strategic Reserve, built around the ex-regular reserve forces to add further depth and expertise in time of crisis
  • A new alliance with industry, engaging much earlier in strategic conversations and building in greater financial headroom to respond to changing needs
  • A new employment model and skills framework, increasing fluidity between the military, the Civil Service and industry, while offering a more compelling and competitive incentivisation package
  • A further £400 million ($763 million) to modernise accommodation that UK service families deserve, which is essential for the operational effectiveness of our personnel.

“We must adapt and modernise to meet the threats we face, taking in the lessons from President Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” said UK Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace. “This Defence Command Paper will sharpen our strategic approach – ensuring the UK remains at the forefront of military capability, and a leading power in NATO.”

Since the Defence Command Paper 2021 was published, the UK has led the way in Europe on support for Ukraine’s defence and remained a leading contributor to NATO, consistently meeting the commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on Defence and moving towards 2.5%.

“In the last two years, the world has changed and the threats and challenges we face have evolved, including Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” added Wallace. “The recent increased investment of £5 billion at the Spring Budget allows the Ministry of Defence to plan ahead, with the Defence budget, for the first time, over £50 billion a year. The certainty over an increased budget will support greater integration between government and UK industry, which is fundamental to sustaining the fighting force, developing and exploiting new technologies, and producing the equipment we need to sustain the fight.”

DCP23 is broken down into a number of chapters based on priorities, including:

  • People
  • Science, Innovation and Technology
  • Industry
  • Productivity
  • Deterrence and Defence
  • Campaigning and Global Competition
  • Strength through Partnerships
  • Strategic Resilience.
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