Changes to the UK Integrated Review are needed to reflect the drastically changed geopolitical climate in 2022, according to the leader of the UK House of Commons Defense Committee.
Speak with shepherdEllwood said the Afghan debacle was a watershed event, which he described as telling Russia and China that the West has no appetite to invest in global security.
The influential MP has also repeatedly called for an increase in UK defense spending given the dire security situation following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Integrated Review offers F-35 funding relief but cuts unconfirmed
MEPs support increasing UK defense spending and reversing cuts
Ellwood also condemned the “devastating” parts being taken from the armed forces, citing reductions in the size of the army and other cuts in defense.
The Integrated Review, published in 2021, was scrutinized by the Chairs of the Ellwood Committee. In a July report, the committee wrote: “The Department of Defense informs us that the integrated review has anticipated the potential for conflict in Ukraine.
‘Nevertheless, capacities are reduced in the short term, but only replaced in the long term.’
When asked if he thought the integrated review was still serving its purpose, Ellwood said he didn’t think it was.
The MP explained: “I think it needs to be reconsidered in every way. The world has changed fundamentally… I think the turning point was actually Afghanistan because it showed Russia and China that the West has no appetite to invest in global security. That we don’t have the patience and eventually lose interest.
“That gave China license to expand its progressive dominance in the South China Sea, not least around Taiwan, and of course Russia, then invade Ukraine and bet NATO wouldn’t respond, and that gamble proved right.” “
The published Integrated Review called Russia the UK’s top security threat and China its “systemic competitor”.
“I think the turning point was actually Afghanistan because it showed Russia and China that the West has no appetite to invest in global security. That we don’t have the patience and eventually lose interest.”— MP Tobias Ellwood
While the Government outlined plans to operate more globally and move the armed forces into a campaign, Government plans called for reducing the size of the British Army by 10,000 personnel and removing IFVs from the force mix with the deletion of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Program .
Ellwood said: “The integrated view of 2021 was, I think, bold and ambitious. It certainly made it clear what a dangerous and more complex world we have in front of us. It has also been argued that our world is becoming more dangerous now than it was during the Cold War.
“But then that gets to the heart of the issue, which I formulated at the time, but it’s even more relevant now that we spent 4% of GDP during the Cold War [on defence] today we are still at 2.2%.’
He added that the UK faces multiple threats from authoritarianism, extremism and the blurring of lines between peace and war, adding that it was right for the Integrated Review to make direct investments in space and cyber capabilities, but criticized it that this is at the expense of other abilities.
Ellwood said: “We stayed at around 2% in peacetime and the implications of keeping a budget constrained but then investing in new capabilities mean cuts were needed elsewhere.
“That is why we have seen these devastating chunks being taken out of our three conventional services; 10,000 troops, tanks, armored fighting vehicles, fleet cuts, the number of Typhoons was reduced, as was the F-35. And heavy lift aircraft were removed, the Hercules was reduced, and the number of frigates; our frigate replacement program has also slowed.’
The MP described this as a “dramatic” reduction in the UK’s conventional capacity due to cost constraints that put the country at risk.
“This new government must recognize the deteriorating global security situation and the need to increase defense spending to at least 3%.”— Tobias Elwood MP
Additionally, he said Ukraine revealed that old threats didn’t go away just because “new threats came over the hill” like space and cyber.
“Our Army, Air Force and Navy are now hugely overstretched and in dire need of investment.
“This new government must recognize the deteriorating global security situation and the need to increase defense spending to at least 3%.” said Ellwood.
During her campaign for Conservative Party leadership and PM, Liz Truss pledged to increase defense spending to 3% of GDP by 2030.
That would require an additional £157 billion ($180 billion) in spending over the next eight years, according to RUSI.