Insulting Defence Review – Daily Mail


Government slammed for ‘insulting’ defence review allowing leading experts just a few hundred words to express their views
Public asked to contribute ideas as part of defence and security review
Online form only allows responses of a maximum of 1,500 characters
One lobby group has described the limit as ‘quite frankly, an insult’

PUBLISHED: 19:37, 15 August 2015 | UPDATED: 00:24, 16 August 2015

Defence experts have hit out at officials who have offered them the chance to contribute just short messages to a major defence review.
The Government has created an online form giving people the chance to contribute ideas and suggestions as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).
However, the form only allows responses of a maximum of 1,500 characters – equivalent to about 200 to 300 words – something a lobby group has described as ‘an insult to your intelligence’.

The Cabinet Office, Department for International Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Ministry of Defence and other departments are currently working on the SDSR, as well as the National Security Strategy.

It will look at the threats faced by the UK and examine the capabilities needed to counter them, as well as how to resource them.
However the public consultation, the information from which will be used to inform the work the Government is doing, has been slammed.

A statement from DefenceSynergia, a defence and strategies research group, reads: ‘DefenceSynergia has become more than concerned that Her Majesty’s Government are determined to restrict input to the on-going Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR 2015).

‘Despite recent public statements on the government website to the effect that the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Defence are willing to consider inputs from external sources, the methodology offered – 1,500 characters only via a controlled website entry format – is, quite frankly, an insult.

‘It is simply disingenuous of the Government and a slight to the intelligence of professional analysts to suggest that this patently restrictive methodology is a genuine attempt to open up SDSR 2015 to a broad base of analytical thinking.
‘By any standards it must be considered an own goal and must be challenged.’

Vernon Coaker, the shadow defence secretary, told The Telegraph: ‘They promised an open process but instead have delivered a sham consultation where submissions can be no longer than 300 words.’

A Government spokesman said the engagement poll is an ‘important tool for inviting comments from the public’ on SDSR topics, but it is not the on way the Government is seeking external input.

Last month it was revealed that David Cameron had ordered more spending on drones and the SAS in a bid to defeat extremist Islamist terrorism.
Defence chiefs have been told to target extra money on special forces and other counter-terror capabilities as part of the SDSR.

New spy aircraft, including drones, to gather intelligence about Islamic State, or other terror groups should be considered, the Prime Minister said. Mr Cameron wants the SDSR, due to conclude in the autumn, to prioritise resources that will help to protect the UK from evolving threats – not only terrorism and extremism but also an increasingly aggressive Russia and the risks posed by cyber attacks.

The review will also examine how the Royal Navy can work with partners such as the United States to use the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, due to enter service in 2020, to deploy drones and special forces against terrorists.

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