The Integrated Review: Security and defence conclusions for the UK

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On 16 March 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed the security and defence conclusions taken from the Integrated Review. The review, which has been conducted over the past 12 months, is the most comprehensive articulation of a foreign policy and national security approach published by a British Government in decades.

The Integrated Review

The 100-page document addresses national security, foreign policy and the UK’s approach to global economy and will be setting out the PM’s vision for the UK in 2030 and how the country will use the full range of its international policy to achieve it.

It comes during a crucial year for the UK’s international leadership, as the country holds the Presidency of the G7 and prepares to host the COP26 Summit. Setting out the conclusions of the Integrated Review, the Prime Minister said: “I am profoundly optimistic about the UK’s place in the world and our ability to seize the opportunities ahead.

“The ingenuity of our citizens and the strength of our Union will combine with our international partnerships, modernised Armed Forces and a new green agenda, enabling us to look forward with confidence as we shape the world of the future.”

Security and defence

The Integrated Review will make it clear that the UK cannot rely solely on an increasingly outdated international system to protect its interests and promote its values. Instead, it will establish a new government foreign policy of increased international activism and a UK that works, alongside its allies and using all the tools at its disposal, to shape a more open international order in which democracies flourish.

In November, the Prime Minister announced the first outcome of the Integrated Review: the biggest programme of investment in defence since the end of the Cold War. The primary security and defence objectives outlined in the review are as follows:

Strengthening security and defence in the UK and overseas – Working with allies and partners to help the UK maximise the benefits of openness and protect citizens, in the physical world and online, against a range of growing threats. These include state threats, radicalisation and terrorism, serious and organised crime and weapons proliferation.

Building resilience in the UK and overseas – Improving the country’s ability to anticipate, prevent, prepare for and respond to risks ranging from extreme weather to cyber-attacks. This will also involve tackling risks at source – in particular climate change and biodiversity loss.

“A robust and cutting edge approach”

Steve Forbes, Government Cyber Security Expert at Nominet, commented: “The UK’s ability to be a force for good in conducting offensive cyber-operations to disrupt online aggressors is increasingly important as we continue to move all aspects of our lives online. With so much changing since the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, it is paramount that as a society we have a robust and cutting edge approach to defending against high level nation-targeted attacks. Investment in ‘home grown’ cyber is a wise move.

“In positioning our country as a global digital leader for the future, it will be important to devise solutions that are adaptable as well as highly resilient and scalable; that both protect us from specific nefarious cyber-activity and keep the entire UK safe online. The government’s plan to offer a full spectrum approach to cyber-defence is crucial to this. A competitive UK is a secure UK.

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and as we move to bolster cyber-defences the Government’s commitment to increased collaboration between them, academia and industry will be invaluable. As will international alliances. These joint efforts can provide information at scale that individual organisations and countries could perhaps never match on their own. From identifying new threats and where education needs to take place, through to technologies that can provide a broad foundation of security. The more we can pull together in our cyber-defence, taking advantage of collective intelligence and counter defence, the stronger we will be.”

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