British Defence Policy: Striking the Right Balance by John Baylis

By John Baylis

This learn of British defence coverage argues "one-off" defence evaluation isn't adequate yet a standard technique of defece experiences each 5 years offer a long term strategic path which, the writer continues, is missing at present.

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In one sense this decision resolved a major problem which foreign and defence planners had wrestled with for many years. Europe could now become the unambiguous focus for defence planning. In another sense, however, the dilemma remained. Given that Britain retained important interests east of Suez and the United States in particular was increasingly keen for Britain to continue to play a role outside Europe, governments since the late 1960s have had to decide what residual capability to provide for 'outof-area' operations.

In 1967, the decision was made by the Cabinet to withdraw British forces from east of Suez by the mid 1970s and subsequently, in 1968, after further financial difficulties, 'the retreat from empire' was to be further speeded up. 18 The 1964---8 defence review was therefore a major milestone in British foreign and defence policy in the twentieth century. Faced with what the government of the day saw as a major choice between 34 British Defence Policy European and global security interests, they concluded that Europe was more crucial to Britain's security interests than the remaining commitments overseas.

Throughout all this, however, The Continental Commitment Versus a Maritime Strategy 23 the continental commitment itself remained largely unchanged. This is not to argue that absolute priority has always been given to BAOR throughout this period. Overseas operations and responsibilities have at times made BAOR appear to be 'the forgotten army'. Nevertheless, for political as well as for military reasons no British government has been prepared to reverse the commitment made in 1954. Despite constant debates about priorities for most of the past thirty years the dilemma between the continental commitment and the maritime strategy has not been particularly acute.

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British Defence Policy: Striking the Right Balance by John Baylis
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