Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have launched the joint international defence engagement strategy ahead of the Munich Security Conference.

They announced that the Britain is to be a ‘dynamic, agile, cutting-edge global power’.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

“Our increased ambition for Defence Engagement abroad demonstrates the UK’s global role.

Whether it’s by increasing our military expertise in the Middle East, training Nigerian forces in maritime security, or RAF Typhoons exercising over South Korea, Britain is committed to working internationally to protect our people and interests.”

Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson said:

“The International Defence Engagement Strategy ensures we get the best value from our brilliant and brave Armed Forces and world-class Diplomatic Service, enabling them to deliver security and prosperity for the British people.”

This year Britain is:

  • Leading NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), a Brigade size force ready to respond to any threat.
  • Leading NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) in Estonia, where 1000 British troops will deploy alongside other NATO Allies to deter threats.
  • Deploying a company size force to Poland, as part of the US’ EFP battle group.
  • Sending Typhoons to police NATO skies over Bulgaria and Romania.

Last year, researchers at European Geostrategy broke global powers down into four categories: Super Power, Global Power, Regional Power and Local Power.

The United States took the top slot as the world’s super power, while Britain took the only Global Power slot, bringing her in second behind America.

Regional powers include France, India and Germany, while local powers were those such as Italy, Brazil, and Turkey.

The organisation European Geostrategy rate the United Kingdom as a global power, they define this as:

“A country lacking the heft or comprehensive attributes of a superpower, but still with a wide international footprint and [military] means to reach most geopolitical theatres, particularly the Middle East, South-East Asia, East Asia, Africa and South America.”

ukgpThe British Armed Forces comprise the Royal Navy, a blue-water navy with a comprehensive and advanced fleet; the Royal Marines, a highly specialised amphibious light infantry force; the British Army, the UK’s principal land warfare force; and the Royal Air Force, with a diverse operational fleet consisting of modern fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

The country is a major participant in NATO and other coalition operations and is also party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Recent operations have included Afghanistan and Iraq, peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Cyprus, intervention in Libya and again operations over Iraq and Syria.

The UK still retains considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally. It’s a recognised nuclear weapons state and its defence budget ranks fifth or sixth in the world. The country has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its inception.

Additionally, according to a study the year before, the UK is one of the worlds main soft powers.

Soft power is a concept developed by Joseph Nye of Harvard University to describe the ability to attract and co-opt rather than coerce, use force or give money as a means of persuasion.

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Don’t make me laugh!!!! A measly handful of 20yr old tanks, only 7 front line Typhoon sqdns and 19 overworked escorts that will soon be robbed of ASM missiles qualifies us to be a ‘dynamic and cutting edge global power’?? Seriously?? Are Fallon and Johnson this far disconnected from the reality of our hollowed out Armed a Forces?? No potential foe of any worth is afraid of us these days; Fallon and his crew need to call a spade a spade and stop deluding themselves!!


The tories love to announce stuff….. all the while cutting budgets and availability.

No SSNs currently at sea
A handful of destroyers that don’t work in mild weather
Fewer tanks than Switzerland
The smallest army for two centuries
Ships that won’t have the ability to destroy other ships….

and so on….

The trajectory of the UK armed forces is inexorably & near terminally downwards.


Have I just woken up in a time warp?

Fallon is in total denial! Wake up man and have a good look at what successive governments have done to our military.

John Stevens

I think you guys are being unfair to the armed forces, the uk armed forces are still a very well trained force able to deploy personnel and equipment around the world, yes sometimes only small in numbers but we can do it.

There are still many countries around the world that would like to have a military force like ours, should not be so pessimistic. It will take a while but there will be a mix of new equipment coming in..


Hi John. With respect, no comment I have posted or read is being unfair to the Armed Forces; they operate within the constrains of the budget made available by Whitehall. The pessimism you reference is laid squarely at the feet of HMG and the fact that they flatly refuse to adequately fund the Armed Forces to do the job that THEY commit us as a nation to. If HMG doesn’t want us to be a world player – that’s fine but don’t pretend to be something we are not because it fools no-one – especially potential foes. The new equipment… Read more »


Unless defence spending is increased to 5% of GDP for at least a decade, the UK armed forces will continue to decline. The situation is catastrophic and near the point of being irrecoverable.

John Stevens

We all know the uk government military cut backs went too far, but i just think some of you guys on this website are too pessimistic. Britain still does it’s bit in the world ! and within NATO it’s one of the larger players in Europe.


Being one of the biggest players in Europe is like being one of the tallest midgets.


Bang on target Joe.

John Stevens

just to add to the above: 7000 elite Royal marines, plus two large multi-role carriers in the future. Possibly early next decade we will have 10 front – line fighter squadrons, new maritime patrol aircraft.. tanks to be upgraded extra protector drones. We have to be realistic about what this country can afford, there are a lot of other things that need extra money too ‘ NHS for example.’


“two large multi-role carriers” They’re not multi-role carriers: They can provide short-range close air support. The idiotic decision to build them as STOVL ships, rather than CATOBAR, has crippled them. They need to have the decks torn off and replaced with proper ones – cats, traps and all. In their currnet configuration they can’t operate a proper air group. “tanks to be upgraded” They can’t be upgraded. The gun is obsolescent and nobody makes ammunition for it any more; it can’t be replaced with a NATO-standard gun because the ammunition won’t fit in the racks, and this is NOT a… Read more »


I take your point Steve; having served in the military I have experienced the decline and stretch on front line squadrons.

It is depressing to see how numbers were radically reduced when they were needed, and the effect it has had on morale.

Phillip Hammond did not understand the close military team ethos required on operations compared to civilian roles. This has been detrimental to the forces which could now comfortably fit within Wembley stadium. Numbers of full time professional troops cannot be replaced by reservists who do not have the time or commitment.


Sorry, John

John Stevens

I cannot agree with you joe ! what do you expect ? The uk cannot police the world in large numbers, the empire has long gone, if that is what you think would make us a big player.. So at least we do our bit with other nations around the world. I think one of the most important things for Uk is NATO and Europe. I do understand some of the points you make Paul, but again i would say we have to be realistic about what we can afford, i know having 80,000 trained army regulars and 26,000 trained… Read more »


John, we DON’T have 26,000 reservists. Hammond’s bright idea was that all the Regulars who’d just been made redundant would join the Army Reserve instead. They didn’t; they said “Sod you” and walked away, and I don’t blame them. I left before the SDSR massacre and I’ve never felt any urge to join the AR; I did my bit. Just imagine how those who were sacked feel about it. I did 6 years TA before going Regular. When I joined the TA we had a Regular Army of 155,000 and a TA of 59,000. Somehow we managed to afford it.… Read more »

John Stevens

Just to add to my comments: Yes i agree with you David the new equipment is going to just fill some of the capability gaps that were made, but at least that will be happening even that looked doubtful at one point..


wishful thinking

Paul Padley

I think that post Brexit this is what my grandmother would have called ‘putting your best foot forwards’. Expect a lot more of this imperial tripe. Some substantive assets and manpower would be nice.

John Stevens

ok guys.. so you want a lot more money spent on the military, so where will you take the money from to do this ? and how would you find the extra resources at the same time to help the NHS, prison service, schools and so on.. It’s easy to criticise all the time but i think if you were in a position of political power you would very quickly find it’s not so easy to do these things.. With all of the comments i have made this evening i have just tried to be realistic about the current situation..… Read more »


Scrap the foreign aid budget; then we can boost defence to 2.5% right away, given that the real figure is currently about 1.8%. The NHS can make efficiency savings – sack all the diversity managers (there are hundreds of them), close the homeopathic hospitals and have a massive cull of management. Comb government looking for savings. No more taxpayer funding to pressure groups – a MASSIVE amount is wasted this way. We can finance the Armed Forces properly, because we did it until not that long ago, but they are very close to the point of no return right now.


Hey John. I too have family members serving right now and we all on this forum want more investment in the Armed Forces. Where do we get the extra money? Try the 11Bn we WASTE every year on foreign aid for a start! Seriously – that is a lot of cash that in my opinion would be better off spent at home! I’m not saying all 11Bn would be spent on the Armed Forces but 4Bn or so extra every year would go a LONG way to help restore our military.

John Stevens

not quite sure what you mean about imperial tripe post Brexit, lol.. I was against leaving the EU

anyway, what ever..


Where to find the money: Obvious one – Foreign Aid £12 Billion and rising = 1/3 of the Defence Budget – and a lot of it goes to countries that have their own weapon/space/military programs. We could suggest refitting HMS Ocean as a Hospital/Disaster Ship – she has the deck space, the communications capability, and as we have just seen the medical options. If we needed her in wartime we’d still have her. NHS – ring-fence the National Insurance to the NHS and increase it by 1% not exactly job done – but a huge step forward. Plan on a… Read more »


I think a lot of you are missing the other half of the equation. The UK’s diplomatic, cultural and commercial influences around the world are still significant, and this is probably what puts us nearly 10 points ahead of France for example. As for spending, I agree with all of you to a point. There are many bills that need to be paid, including fixing the ham-fisted cock-ups of the 2010 SDSR, but there’s also the NHS, Police, Schools etc etc etc. I think though, that HMG isn’t very smart about how it saves the money. A smarter way of… Read more »


Politicians talking nonsense as usual, capabilities have been greatly diminished over the last 10 years because of spending cuts. Forces’ morale at rock bottom – enough rhetoric please, let’s see the money


I certainly agree with the aim of the announcement that the UK should seek to be a dynamic global power. After all that is what we have been over the left 300 years or so and I see no reason why that should change. Leaving the EU gives us room to rediscover a more appropriate role for the UK through a foreign policy which is more beneficial for the long term prospects of both our country and the world. Our membership of the EU was always a bit odd and probably was the perfect example of where shared power equates… Read more »


This 2% GDP reference point has become a comfort blanket, just like the minimum wage. It says nothing about the UK’s real needs or our unique status as a large island nation. Unlike mainland European we can’t feed, power or clothe ourselves without access to the seas. Germany can double it’s spend and it will be good for European land defence but little or none of that will be used to protect our vital sea lanes. It is my belief that we are actually now more vulnerable than at any time in our history and totally asleep at the wheel.… Read more »

John Stevens

Interesting comments cognitio… Good idea about the international aid budget.

geoffrey james roach

Hi John….having just read though this lot I thought I would offer you some support as you seem to be the one making rational comments. Come on guys. Lets gets some things out of the way. We are not America, we are not going to take on the Chinese and Putin is not an idiot. That leaves the rest of the world where with an advanced navy almost starting from scratch after 30 years of being messed about; a commando force, I for one am proud of, and a Royal Air Force taking on more and more first class kit… Read more »


Rose coloured glasses Geoffrey……

geoffrey james roach

No…optimistic, because pessimism gets you no where! I agree with you entirely about foreign aid. God knows where it’s going.


The PR machine is now playing the “Attack on our leadership, funding, planning are an attack on the brave men and women who serve.” A sure sign the decline will not be reversed. Brace for a forces with limited training ops, lowered standards to get the reduced numbers filled. Then an increase of SF numbers for PR taken from a smaller, poorer trained, lower morale pool. Not long until UK joint defence for streamlining back-end functions with an Australian man power solution of hiring ex US Mil to retire into roles we can’t recruit for or retain. We leave these… Read more »

Keith Campbell

Although I would also like to see a bigger UK defence budget, critics of the country’s defence tend to make some major errors. 1) They do not understand nuclear strategy and ignore the nuclear deterrent. They think Britain’s nuclear deterrent exists to deter only nuclear attacks on the UK. This is not so. It exists to deter all existential-level attacks on the UK, whether nuclear, chemical, biological, or conventional (such as WW II style strategic bombing offensives or U-Boat-type submarine campaigns). While harassing attacks on the UK by bombers or against British shipping would be possible, full-scale offensives aimed at… Read more »

John Stevens

Appreciate you’re support geoffrey, thank you ! Totally agree with you’re comments also..

Mr Bell

Some great comments here and it is good to see such passionate debate. I agree with all that has been said about successive defence cuts the lack of adequate expenditure on defence currently and the fact our government have presided over allowing a whittling away of critical mass and strength in our armed forces. How do we get out of this mess? Cut foreign aid budget by 50% now! Today! Raise income tax by 5p per pound and use this extra income evenly distributed 5 ways 1. to defence raising gdp to defence expenditure to 3%. 2. social care in… Read more »


I started trying to learn about UK military capabilities about a year ago when I saw Chinese and Russian military parades and realised that I had no idea how we stacked up against the rest of the world. My preconceptions were mostly formed by tabloid headlines of the type: “RN/RAF/Army is a shambles”, “Crippling cuts”, etc etc. My journey of discovery was as follows… Initial thoughts – we have (or are planning) a far more capable military in terms of modern equipment than I thought. I had the impression from the tabloid doom and gloom that we had pitiful and… Read more »

Mr Bell

Julian. good balanced views. I like the idea of taking from foreign aid budget but adding that too military flexibility so we can deliver humanitarian aide. Like you i think most people appreciate the exotic and highly capable pieces of equipment the military have or are getting. We just need to plug a,few capability gaps such as replacement for HMS Ocean and fitting a new antiship missile to royal navy (with the retirement of harpoon) I think most people who have a passing interest in uk defence are simply worried about a lack of critical mass. Too few warships and… Read more »