IIEA Membership Details

Prices and Gift Cards

Sign Up to the IIEA Monthly Newsletter

Sitemap Find what you need quickly


Changes in UK Defence Policy Under the Coalition Government

Podcast Transcript Powerpoint

No comments

Post comment


Post a Comment

If you register as a user, you will be able to post comments without this CAPTCHA.
Type text into the box
Please keep your comments on the topic of the content, and avoid including links to external sites that are off-topic. Comments are moderated; those that are offensive, contain spam or are off-topic will not be published. There may be a delay between comments being submitted and comments being posted due to the moderation process, but we will keep this delay to a minimum. Such a delay does not automatically mean we have ignored or rejected your comment. Our aim is to build a community with online users who are informed and engage in healthy discussion. The IIEA does not accept any responsibility for any statement posted by a member on www.iiea.com. View the full comment guidelines and conditions here.

About this Event

10 Jun 2011 @ 12:45

About the Speaker:

Sir Bill Jeffrey was Permanent Under Secretary of the UK Ministry of Defence from 2005 until 2010. As the top civil servant in the area of defence, he was a key figure in shaping British defence policy.

Sir Bill Jeffrey joined the UK civil service in 1971 and has held a number of influential roles including Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office.

About the Event:


What can and should Britain’s role in the world be? Has Britain succeeded in defining a post-imperial role for itself?

These were among the major questions that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government were faced with in its first year in government, according to Sir Bill Jeffrey. As Permanent Under Secretary of the UK Ministry of Defence until the end of 2010, Jeffrey worked closely with the government on the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Jeffrey outlined the UK government’s challenge – to design a flexible defence force for the 2020s that plays to Britain’s existing strengths and is affordable. He opened his address to the Institute with a quotation from the SDSR, describing the backdrop against which the government has framed its defence policy: 

“The challenge is to deliver this [the ends set out in the National Security Strategy] while heavily engaged in Afghanistan; with inherited national security budgets in overdraft; and in the midst of the biggest financial crisis in a generation.” 

Jeffrey highlighted the impact of UK engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq – the defence forces are simultaneously involved in two major operations when military planning had only assumed one. While the armed forces now have significant experience on the ground in conflict situations, Jeffrey pointed out that this experience does not necessarily translate into being better prepared for future operations, as the nature of conflict is changing so quickly.

Governments across Europe are facing tough choices with regard to defence budgets, with taxpayers are getting “less defence for their buck” as the cost of military equipment and technologies rises.  However, Jeffrey pointed out that the UK’s defence budget has remained higher than any other EU country’s, with the possible exception of France, and that Prime Minister David Cameron has committed to real growth in defence spending from 2014-2015. 

In his speech, Sir Bill Jeffrey indicated that it is unlikely that the UK will engage in any significant military operations alone in the foreseeable future. Therefore the focus of government policy has shifted to managing a number of priority alliances: the UK-USA special relationship; new bilateral arrangements with partners such as France; the role of the UK within a reformed UN; NATO; and an outward-facing EU.

The IIEA wishes to acknowledge the support it has received from the European Commission throughout 2011.


Theme: Foreign Policy and ESDP 

Views: 4361

Video URL:
Embed Code:

Other Related

Associated Documents

  • No associated documents

Associated Publications

Enhancing Cooperation – German Attitudes Towards European Security and Defence Policy

This discussion paper by the Institute’s Germany Group provides a snapshot of German views on developments in European Security and Defence Policy.

Finding Our Bearings: European Security Challenges in the Era of Trump and Brexit

This paper attempts to discern the direction of international security policy in 2017 and to set out the challenges for European security, and their implications for Ireland.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: European Security - Autumn 2015

Over the past three months, the EU has seen several significant developments in the broad field of European security. In this paper, Patrick Keatinge reflects on the developments in the Ukraine crisis and the Arab winter, and examines the European Union’s response to both of these situations.

IIEA Annual Report 2014

Germany’s Place in the World – August 2014

Pádraig Murphy traces the evolution of German Foreign Policy from the foundation of the Federal Republic to the current crisis in Ukraine.

Annual Report 2013

Annual Report 2012

Annual Report 2012

European Security in the 21st Century: The EU’s Comprehensive Approach

This paper offers an in-depth examination of the EU’s comprehensive approach to crisis management. The author makes an initial analysis of its institutionalisation and implementation and assesses its significance for Ireland.

European Security in the 21st Century

This paper offers a broad outline of recent developments in security and defence policy in Europe, analysing the conceptual debate, the multilateral architecture and the contribution of Ireland to CSDP.

Annual Report 2011

Annual Report 2011

European Security and Defence Policy and the Lisbon Treaty

European Security and Defence Forces and The Lisbon Treaty describes the reality of ESDP over the past 6 years and looks at the changes the Lisbon Treaty would make.

Making Sense of European Security Policy: Ireland and the Lisbon Treaty