Work has begun on a major review of the UK’s defences to ensure the country ‘remains a leader on the world stage’.
The government pledged to do ‘whatever is necessary to ensure that our courageous armed forces can keep Britain safe’ as they embark on fresh plans to respond to global threats.
National security and foreign policy will be at the heart of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), and the National Security Strategy will also be revised, according to the new legislative programme.
The plans will tackle the ‘complex risks’ posed by a ‘rapidly changing world’, the Cabinet Office said.
Following the last SDSR in 2010, regular army numbers were cut significantly and the number of reservists was increased.
What the next SDSR means for the Royal Navy in Portsmouth remains unclear, but prime minister David Cameron has repeatedly claimed both of the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, currently under construction in Rosyth, will enter service.
Ministers are under pressure to meet Nato targets that require countries to spend 2 per cent of national income on defence and to deal with increased threats from Russia and Islamic State in strategic planning.
The review will ensure Britain has the ‘networks necessary to promote our interests’ and maintain ‘world-leading’ armed forces, intelligence agencies, police and diplomatic capabilities, the government said.
At least £160bn is being invested in military equipment over the next decade, it added.
An Armed Forces Bill is also being introduced as required every five years to refresh legal consent for the British military.
Meanwhile, today’s Queen’s Speech saw a raft of new proposals including a ban on legal highs and more action to tackle extremist activity.