COMMONS

Intervention: Why, When and How?

Inquiry concluded.

This inquiry is the third of a series which have evolved from our inquiry Towards the next Defence and Security Review. These will cover a number of significant strands which the Committee believe would benefit from further Defence Committee consideration.

In recent years UK Armed Forces have been involved in interventions throughout the world, most recently Afghanistan, Libya and Mali. Intervention arises for many different reasons and takes various forms. In June 2013, Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Defence, commented:

"We ourselves have learned the lesson that earlier, smaller scale intervention may often avoid the need for more massive intervention later, and if we are in a mood for beating ourselves up, perhaps we should have foreseen the consequences of what was happening in Afghanistan before 9/11 [...] Perhaps we should have been more forward leaning in the west collectively in intervening to try and head off what was happening here before it happened."

The Committee wishes to consider the strategy underpinning interventions and how this will evolve and change in the future. The Committee is interested in:

  • What is the strategic thinking behind UK intervention strategy? Including:
    o The legitimacy of intervention (legality and political and public support (including communication strategies));
    o Are any interventions deemed to be non-discretionary and what determines the underlying policy?;
    o The implications of Treaty and international obligations;
    o Whether the UK is capable of acting without Allies; and
    o How are decisions to intervene taken?
  • What should intervention be used for? Including:
    o The relationship between deterrence, conflict prevention, containment and intervention; and
    o The implications of the involvement of non-state actors.
    How interventions are carried out and what are the range of options? Including:
    o What might be the nature of future interventions?;
    o How do soft, smart and hard power interplay in intervention strategy?;
    o Preparation and readiness of the UK Armed Forces for intervention, including regeneration of UK contingent capability and training and planning capacity; and
    o The policy underpinning and the utility of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), its components and the inclusion of key Allies; and the role of the additional Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.
  • How interventions end. Including:
    o Framing clear end states and exit strategies;
    o What comes after intervention, including how well does the UK plan and prepare for it and the role of stabilisation and reconstruction?; and
    o How does the UK retain and incorporate lessons learned into future interventions?

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