Two years after the first version the UK has published l’Integrated Review Refresh 2023 (IRR23) document which outlines the programmatic lines that aim to strengthen the country’s capabilities to face the growing global defense and security challenges.
The IRR23 establishes the allocation of an additional £5 billionto complement the 24 billion pounds already committed, to the Ministry of Defense over the next two years to help replenish and strengthen ammunition stockpiles, modernize the nuclear sector and fund the next phase of the AUKUS submarine programme.1. Of this budget, £3 billion will be invested in both military nuclear power and the construction of industrial infrastructure and therefore to increase programs and skills in the sector to improve production capacity and to support submarines in service.
The other £2 billion will be used to rebuild and increase stockpiles. We recall that the United Kingdom is the second world power to contribute to support Ukraine and has already committed 2.3 billion pounds to the cause.
In the longer term, the British are confident of investing, if economic and fiscal circumstances permit, to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP.
With the’Integrated Review Refresh As of 2021, the British government had identified four trends towards which the international environment would head ie changes in the distribution of global power, interstate competition over the nature of the international order, rapid technological changes and the worsening transnational challenges.
The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has accelerated these trends by shaping a multipolar, fragmented and disputed world. The newly approved document updates the UK’s key priorities and tasks to reflect the resulting changes in the global context. Already with the 2021 document, the United Kingdom had established that the closest threat to the security of the United Kingdom is identified in Russia.
The IRR23 predicts that there will be an increasing destabilization of the international security environment in the coming years, with state threats increasing and diversifying inside and outside Europe. Tensions in the Indo-Pacific are rising and the conflict could have greater global consequences than the conflict in Ukraine. The threat from Iran has increased, as demonstrated by its advanced nuclear program. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is also seeking to develop its nuclear capabilities, pursuing regionally destabilizing activities through missile tests that threaten its neighbors.
The IRR23 sets out four ways in which the UK will seek to protect its strategic interests.
Shaping the international environment. The UK will actively shape, balance, cooperate and compete to create the conditions, structures and incentives necessary for an open and stable international order and to protect global public goods.
Discourage, defend and compete in all sectors. It will strengthen its integrated approach to deterrence and defence, to counter both state threats and transnational security challenges.
Addressing vulnerabilities through resilience. Develop the UK’s approach to resilience, addressing the economic, social, technological, environmental and infrastructure factors that leave the UK exposed to crises and hostile actors.
Generate a strategic advantage. Strengthen and extend strategic advantage: the UK’s relative ability to achieve objectives compared to its competitors.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “By investing in our military for the long term, we will be ready for the challenges of today and the future. […] the UK will remain a major contributor to NATO and a reliable international partner, defending our values from Ukraine to the South China Sea. We will strengthen our national defenses, from economic security to technology supply chains and intelligence capabilities, to ensure we are never again vulnerable to the actions of a hostile power.”.
1 Trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, announced on 15 September 2021 with the aim of containing China‘s expansion in the Pacific area through a fleet of nuclear submarines.
Photo: Royal Navy