Over the next five years the Royal Navy must ensure that the Ministry of Defence delivers its formidable maritime acquisition program, articulated in the Defence Review of October 2010. Preserving that program is vital if the country is to have precisely the new capabilities it needs in the years ahead.
Notwithstanding that, the ministry also has a responsibility to help address the nation’s difficult financial position. Thus it is imperative that we maintain our intellectual capital so we can adapt to new technologies when we are able to acquire them. That means recruiting and retaining high-quality people who, well paid and well trained, are confident operating in the maritime environment and able to think outside the box.
Preserving that intellectual capital is also imperative as the Royal Navy, with the U.S. Navy’s assistance, generates its carrier strike capability. Achieving this will fulfill my 10-year strategic objective, by returning the Royal Navy to a truly full-spectrum maritime force, one that continues to own the seams of power projection—from the sea, to the land, and in the air—able to meet the likely wide-ranging nature of future threats.
As we look further out, to the 20-year horizon, we must ensure that we retain the ability to think strategically. Despite the current global economic climate of cutbacks, we should resist paring our level of long-term maritime ambition. For it is ambition that fuels change, fuels progress, and—in the business of defense—fuels military advantage.
Common to all these strategic objectives is the overriding need to be adaptable. After all, given the nature of the uncertain world in which we live, it is imperative that the Royal Navy, along with other navies, retains the capacity to evolve with it.