Yesterday, I spoke in the debate on the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. I was glad to be able to speak in the debate, and to raise the plethora of opportunities for defence, security and foreign policy going forward.
You can read my contribution here:
Our adversaries are changing, the characteristics of warfare is changing, and our military is modernising to combat emerging
hard and soft threats, but that will take decades to evolve, and in the meantime we still need boots on the ground. A string of previous defence and procurement reviews have been throttled by lack of funding, but with the announcement of a £24 billion increase in defence spending, I want to see ambition matched by British global aspiration.
In 2018, the national security capability review identified that disease and natural hazards posed a real threat to the UK. How right it was. Therefore, this integrated review must incorporate a fresh analysis of the type of risk and geopolitical competition that that will cause and, equally, what role we want the military to play in it.
During this pandemic, civilian authorities have requested military support on 441 occasions. In Wales, the military has propped up the vaccine roll-out programme, and the number of military personnel embedded in NHS Wales doubled as of last week. The health board serving my constituency of Wrexham has just been afforded logistical planners to assist with expanding the efficiencies of the vaccination centres. That role is vital to protect the public and, by extension, national stability and security.
Let us look at the number of military personnel currently diverted to other duties: 14,500 on winter support; 4,500 on military aid to the civil authorities; three battalions on standby, and a further 5,000 personnel working behind the scenes. Without doubt, such prolonged support will impact military resilience and strike capability. I would like to see that threat addressed in the integrated review, along with a reassurance that personnel numbers will reach their target and will not be reduced.
I anticipate that the integrated review will identify opportunities in the modernisation of defence in order to create skilled jobs and drive exports. That will facilitate the Government’s agenda to level up and build back stronger. Certainly, the defence industry and supply chain is vital, and nowhere more so than in Wales. In addition to the presence of military personnel, the next generation of the Army’s Ajax armoured fighting vehicle is made in Merthyr, and components for the Boxer in Cardiff. In north-east Wales, MOD Sealand is the global F-35 maintenance hub, and the Shadow aircraft will be supported by Raytheon, in addition to the work undertaken at Qioptiq.
That all creates significant prosperity—more than 7,500 jobs—with the procurement spend in Wales increasing by 11% to £1 billion. That has been achieved because we are one United Kingdom, and the Conservatives are the party of defence. Wales’s defence footprint is vital, but our armed forces and defence industry need certainty. Certainty comes with the integrated review, which I hope will be published sooner rather than later.
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