Exercise Trident Juncture

ANALYSIS: Britain's Role In The World After Brexit

Exercise Trident Juncture

British troops during Exercise Trident Juncture earlier this year.

By Forces News Defence correspondent, James Hirst

In his first Christmas Lecture as Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter warned threats to the UK are “proliferating and intensifying very rapidly”.

What level of activity should we plan for?

He told the Royal United Services Institute the forces must modernise to meet future threats, but suggested that could mean some hard choices.

He asked:

“Is our ambition to be globally deployable or global – and what level of activity should we plan for?”

While the General did not repeat any of the stark warnings about funding that have been made at some previous Christmas lectures, he did hint at concerns about the pressures on the armed forces, saying: "We need to find the right mix of capability between the raw necessity for mass and the need for sophistication and precision; as well as recognising that we seem no longer to be able to hold forces purely at readiness.

"Now it’s much more about the notice to recommit forces that are already committed."

Are there any updates with the Modernising Defence Programme?

General Carter was speaking just days before the government is expected to reveal the final conclusions of its Modernising Defence Programme, seen as a ‘mini defence review’ that has taken more than a year.

While the military chief did not announce any of the programme's findings, he did say that modernisation would be led by technology, adding that data and science should be at the heart of decision making.

But he also acknowledged the political reality that the Modernising Defence Programme is completed just as the government is about to embark on a review of all its spending.

Anything else we need to know?

The speech talked about increasing the level of specialist career streams, allowing entry above the lowest ranks, and new responsibilities for Joint Force Command.

He said his priority would always be maximising the talent of the men and women of the Armed Forces.

General Carter was, in part, setting out the case for defence ahead of that spending review.

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