Delivering Security in a Changing World

The 2003 Defence White Paper, titled Delivering Security in a Changing World, set out the future structure of the British military, and was preceded by the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and the 2002 SDR New Chapter, which responded to the immediate challenges to security in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Published under the then Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, the report effectively introduced a series of cutbacks to core equipment and manpower and the scaling back of a series of future capital procurement projects. This was justified due to the implementation of a policy termed Network Enabled Capability. The review also outlined a major restructuring and consolidation of British Army Infantry regiments.

Key points

The White Paper, scaling back to an extent from the previous Strategic Defence Review, outlined the following posture for the UK armed forces:

Most of the reforms listed below were announced as part of the Delivering Security in a Changing World: Future Capabilities review, published on 21 July 2004.

British Army

Royal Air Force

  • Manpower reduced by 7,000.
  • Early withdrawal of the 41-strong SEPECAT Jaguar force by 2007 and closure of Jaguar's operating base, RAF Coltishall, Norfolk.
  • Current Nimrod MR.2 maritime patrol aircraft fleet to be reduced from 21 to 16.
  • Reduction in the purchase of re-manufactured Nimrod MRA.4s from 18 to 16 (eventually 9) aircraft.
  • Reduction in the Tornado F3 force by one squadron (16 aircraft) in preparation for replacement with Typhoon.
  • Reduction of 6 Puma helicopters of No. 230 Squadron RAF based in Northern Ireland.
  • Reduction in Rapier missile launchers from 48 to 24, coupled with the transfer of the launchers to the Royal Artillery, and the disbandment of four RAF Regiment squadrons that operated Rapier.
  • Additional procurement numbers of Hawk 128 training aircraft above an initial batch of 20 to be decided upon in 2005.
  • Typhoon purchase confirmed, Tranche 2 contract delayed until December 2004 when cost/capability issues were resolved.
  • Purchase of 4 Boeing C-17s operated by the RAF at the end of their lease period including one additional aircraft for a total fleet of 5.

Royal Navy

The review also mentioned "significant" classified enhancements of British special forces, including strength increases and investment in new equipment.

Financially, in a Treasury spending review announced the week before, the budget would rise by £3.7bn from £29.7bn in 2004/2005 to £33.4bn in 2007/2008. The review also mentions £3bn to be invested into procuring new helicopters over the next ten years.

Future army structure

The future regimental structure of the British Army, after changes were outlined in the review was announced in December 2004. Significant changes included:

  • Conversion of an armoured regiment to the formation reconnaissance role
  • All single-battalion infantry regiments to be merged into existing or new regiments. This measure met with some opposition, especially in Scotland, amongst former soldiers and nationalist groups.[1]
  • Conversion of 4th Armoured Brigade to a mechanised brigade
  • Conversion of 19 Mechanised Brigade to a light brigade (19 Light Brigade)
  • Conversion of a single battalion of the Parachute Regiment to a tri-service specialist special forces support battalion (see Special Forces Support Group)
  • Reorganisation of the Territorial Army infantry into 14 battalions that are attached to regular infantry regiments of the British Army
  • Reduction in the number of British infantry battalions from 40 to 36
  • Reduction in the number and size of regular military bands in the Corps of Army Music from 29 to 23
  • Reduction in the number of Army Air Corps helicopters based in Northern Ireland
  • Creation of the Defence HUMINT Unit
  • Creation of a new commando engineer regiment
  • Creation of a new signals regiment

See also


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