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By Kevin Brown
On the 28th November 2017, the Henry Jackson Society, by kind invitation of Lord Risby launched a report on the future of the Armed Forces by Global Britain Programme director James Rogers. James holds a First class honours BSc. in Economics and International Politics from Aberystwyth University. As well as an M. Phil in contemporary European Studies from the University of Cambridge. James, a founding member of the Henry Jackson Society also served as acting Dean of the Baltic Defence College, and with the European Union. In addition, James Rogers has contributed to several research projects at RAND, the European Council on Foreign Relations, and Egmont Institute among others.
Rogers began the report launch by emphasising that rapid technological changes combined with an increasingly diverse threat environment pose challenges for Britain’s armed forces. The decision to leave the European Union also complicates the situation-but it also leaves the door open for opportunities as well.
He pointed out that British foreign policy in the post-Cold War era has taken on an increasingly global focus. Brexit could allow for Westminster to engage with other critical regions such as the Middle East and Asia-Pacific more effectively. This could be a chance for Britain’s armed forces to establish more of a presence in these region(s) and have more influence.
Rogers also explained that the United Kingdom has historically served as an offshore balancing power to the Continent. However, he stressed that Britain’s involvement in NATO is important to the future of European Security. Roger’s called on Britain to raise its annual defence spending levels to 3% of the GDP over a 5-year span.
Furthermore, he pointed out that all member states of NATO needed to honour their commitment to the organization with action. Roger’s called on states like Germany and other NATO members to increase the investment made in their military. Doing so would help ensure the collective defence of both Britain and Europe in these difficult times.
Rogers then took an array of questions from the audience which ranged from intelligence cooperation with Europe, what should increase British military spending be focused on, to the impact of Brexit on Britain’s defence industrial base. He stated that investment in Britain’s military capabilities must be diverse, and not concentrated on one particular area given the problems in today’s world. While going forward Westminster must think deeper on what Britain’s relation’s with Europe will be.