Defence Committee Press Notice

Session 2008-09, 25 March 2009

New Inquiry


The Defence Committee is today announcing a new inquiry into the Comprehensive Approach in which it will examine to what extent UK military and non-military agencies do work effectively through a comprehensive approach “with commonly understood principles and collaborative processes that enhance the likelihood of favourable and enduring outcomes within a particular situation” .

The Committee will wish to draw upon lessons learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan and other theatres. It will consider whether the approach taken by the UK Government is well co-ordinated and proactive with an outcome based focus and ultimately whether this approach has been effective.

The nature of the situations where our Armed Forces are deployed is increasingly complex and volatile without a clear cut war fighting phase followed by peace support. There is significant overlap of work by the Department for International Development, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence making co-ordination and a joint approach essential. Indeed, as the UK has recently only operated in coalition with allies and international organisations, a common understanding of methods and desired outcomes is crucial.

The Committee is particularly interested in and would welcome written evidence on the following subjects:

  • the validity of the Comprehensive Approach;
  • how well UK Government Departments are working together;
  • how the UK is working with its allies in NATO and the USA;
  • the lessons learnt from operational theatres before Iraq and Afghanistan;
  • to what extent has the Comprehensive Approach been implemented in Iraq and Afghanistan and how successful has the approach been;
  • what impact the Comprehensive Approach has had on the structures, resources and training in the relevant UK Government Departments;
  • the effectiveness of the approach in delivering favourable and enduring outcomes; and
  • what adjustments are needed to the Comprehensive Approach to deliver better outcomes.

The Committee would welcome written evidence to this inquiry by 12 May 2009. The Committee expects to hold oral evidence sessions at the House of Commons during June 2009. Witnesses will be announced in due course but are expected to include representatives from the Ministry of Defence, the Armed Forces, other appropriate Government departments, NGOs and outside commentators.


The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. The Defence Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.


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