Defence Committee

Session 2007-08, 5 November 2008

Outline Programme of Inquiries for 2009


The Defence Committee today announces its outline programme of inquiries for the first half of 2009. Following the conclusion of inquiries into the MoD's Annual Report and Accounts 2007-08 and Defence Equipment, the Committee in the New Year intends to investigate a series of related areas of the MoD's policy and activity in order better to establish:

(1) what is the current state of the Armed Forces, in terms of current readiness and capability; and

(2) how the MoD must act to ensure that the Armed Forces have the proper training, organisation and capabilities for likely future challenges.

The Committee will make use of the MoD's Balanced Scorecard, issued with the Defence Plan for 2008-12, to sequence and relate its inquiries throughout 2009. The MoD's Defence Board uses the Balanced Scorecard to assess Departmental progress: the Committee's use of the Balanced Scorecard will enable the Board better to see how the Committee's work relates to its own analysis. The Balanced Scorecard will also assist the Committee in ensuring greater focus and relevance for its own assessment of the MoD and the Armed Forces.

This series of inquiries will begin in January 2009 with a brief examination of the Defence Support Group (DSG) and the progress made since the amalgamation of ABRO and DARA and the formal launch of the DSG on 1 April 2008. The Committee will then proceed to conduct an inquiry into readiness and recuperation for the tasks of today, which will analyse levels of preparedness in the Armed Forces in terms of equipment, manpower, training and sustainability for any new and immediate challenges. The Committee will also hold a one-off evidence session with the Service Complaints Commissioner, Dr Susan Atkins, one year after her appointment to that new post.

This will be followed by an examination of defence relations with Russia, which will take account of recent events in the Caucasus within the context of the Committee's continuing interest in NATO and ESDP matters. An inquiry into current and future helicopter capability will follow, after which the Committee will undertake a second assessment of ISTAR issues, with a focus on network-enabled capability (NEC) and the Defence Information Infrastructure (DII). The Committee will then proceed to hold an inquiry into the strengths and weaknesses of the Comprehensive Approach, with an eye to lessons that can be learned from experiences in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Notwithstanding this series of inquiries, the Committee will continue to be ready to react to events and adapt its programme as required. The Committee will also continue its core inquiries into the MoD's main and supplementary estimates.

Individual press releases setting out detailed terms of reference for each inquiry an calling for evidence will be released shortly for the first three named inquiries. Further such press releases will follow in due course.