NSC confronts defence review dilemmas

By politics.co.uk staff

Prime minister David Cameron will chair a meeting of the national security council later addressing the dilemmas faced by the strategic defence and security and review (SDSR).

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been working on the major overhaul of Britain’s military capabilities, the first of its kind in 12 years, since after the general election and is set to report its findings next month.

Mr Cameron is not expected to make any key decisions in today’s meeting but will give a general indication of his thinking on issues including whether to ‘salami-slice’ all services.

This seems increasingly unlikely. Media reports suggest officials are leaning towards prioritising the ongoing commitment in Afghanistan, meaning the RAF and Royal Navy will face harsher cuts.

The purchase of two new aircraft carriers and speculation about the future role of the RAF’s Tornado jets are now facing uncertainty.

Meanwhile the Telegraph newspaper reported that the Territorial Army, currently numbering around 35,000 troops, could find itself reduced by a third.

The SDSR has been criticised by the Commons’ defence committee for being rushed and lacking sufficient consultation.

Discussions relating to Trident are not expected to be on the table. The coalition is expected to put off the final decision on replacing Britain’s nuclear deterrent on a like-for-like basis until after the 2015 general election.