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hese are unusually challenging times for Defence. We must respond to that challenge, as our future security and global standing relies on us doing so.

Our forces in Afghanistan - necessarily our current Main Effort - are fighting hard and making real
progress. They are protecting Britain’s national security by denying a safe haven to violent extremists.

Their bravery in the face of a determined and resilient enemy is humbling and has reminded the
British people that conflict is difficult and dangerous. We must continue to resource operations in Afghanistan appropriately. In December, I announced a package of adjustments to the Defence programme to reflect this priority.

But we cannot assume that tomorrow’s conflict will replicate today’s, and so in planning for the
future we must anticipate a wide range of threats and requirements. While there is no external direct threat to the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom, there are a variety of evolving threats for which we must be prepared, from cyber warfare to the dangers posed by failing states. The world is a more uncertain place than previously and our ability to project force to counter threats will remain crucial to our national security. We will also retain vital responsibilities for domestic defence and resilience.

To respond to these challenges, I have said that the Government would hold a Strategic Defence
Review immediately after the next election. The Review must contribute to decisions about the role we want the United Kingdom to play in the world and how much the nation is prepared to pay for security and defence. This Green Paper does not attempt to answer that fundamental question.

Rather it opens discussion and sets out our emerging thinking on this and other key issues for
Defence. Where possible it seeks to begin to build consensus; and in writing the Paper, I have consulted widely with academics, opposition parties and across government.

The last major Defence Review in 1998 gave us the basis from which to modernise Britain’s Armed
Forces. They have proved their value consistently in major overseas operations in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan. And they have continued to fulfil additional responsibilities, from counter-piracy to humanitarian support and assistance in domestic emergencies.

Our deployment to Afghanistan has seen us engaged in a process of constant reform. We have
adapted our approach to welfare, medical care, and other aspects of support to operations. We have had to learn how to deliver equipment to counter a complex and rapidly evolving threat in a unique environment. It is my belief that our Armed Forces and our national security will be further strengthened by the most thorough and systematic application of the lessons we have learnt over the last decade.

As we approach the next Defence Review, we must also confront the fact that despite our continued
investment in Defence, we face challenging financial pressures: rising fuel and utility costs, increases in pay and pensions, and cost growth on major equipment projects. This is set against the backdrop
of a global economic crisis which will constrain Government resources.

Our Armed Forces are our ultimate insurance policy. But we cannot insure against every risk. We will
need to do things differently in the future and prioritise some activities over others. Hard choices and important decisions lie ahead, and it is right that they are taken in the context of a full Review.

Ultimately, the success of our Armed Forces is underpinned by the men and women who serve, and
the civilians who support them. They are our greatest asset and in reforming we must preserve their calibre and morale.

My overarching conclusion is that we must be more adaptable in the manner in which we structure,
equip, train and generate our forces. We will legislate for regular future Defence Reviews to respond swiftly to evolving trends and threats. I also firmly believe that increasing globalisation ties our security to that of our allies - we cannot be unilaterally secure. Therefore we must increase cooperation with our international partners to deliver defence more efficiently and effectively.

I am determined that we take the tough decisions necessary to preserve our national security, and
that we do so coherently and based on firm policy foundations. This Green Paper is the beginning of
that process.

Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP

The Secretary of State for Defence

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