The Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee on the urgent need to bolster our defence capabilitiesby Jay Elwes / September 18, 2014 / Leave a comment
Published in October 2014 issue of Prospect Magazine
“It was very striking when the Russia crisis broke out for example that there were only two people left [in the Defence Intelligence unit] working on Russia.” “There was no Crimea desk officer,” in the service, which provides strategic defence intelligence to the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces. “The Crimea desk officer had to be moved across from the South Caucasus—and the Russian analysis section had been closed in 2010.”
Rory Stewart, the Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border and Chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, has told Prospect that Britain is suffering from a serious shortfall in foreign policy expertise and analytical capability, which hinders its ability to cope with the multiple foreign policy threats it now faces.
In an interview with Prospect, Stewart set out the challenge posed to Britain by Islamic State extremists in the Middle East and the military adventurism of Vladimir Putin, saying that: “What’s really lacking in all these theatres is sufficient people who are deep experts on the language and the region to actually produce the options to ministers.”
There is no argument about the extent of the threat posed by the Islamic State group, Stewart says. It must be confronted. A more uncertain question is whether Britain can contribute to the development of a regional…