‘Back to the Future’: the Royal Navy in the Twenty-First Century

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As it enters the new millennium, the size, composition and outlook of the Royal Navy promises to be considerably different from the one which existed a mere decade ago. If the Navy is successful in getting its case accepted within the Ministry of Defence (MoD), we could, once again, see a Royal Navy containing relatively large aircraft carriers earmarked for the projection of British military power overseas,2 supported by a brigade level amphibious assault capability and nuclear-powered attack submarines equipped with conventionally armed land-attack cruise missiles (TLAM).3 What this would amount to is a return to a far more traditional defence policy than we have seen over the last fifty years with a maritime rather than continental emphasis.4 Incorporated within this would be a defence policy that utilizes available technology to project power from the sea to a far greater distance and far more accurately than has previouslybeen possible.

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Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the stark certainties of the Cold War have been replaced by complex instability and conflict. The Foreign Secretary here discusses the challenges that have arisen in the wake of this upheaval, including the creation of anew European Security System, incorporating the former Eastern Hoc; how the international community should handle new kinds of more localised crises; and ways in which military and institutional instruments can be adapted to meet the new demands and responsibilities imposed by the end of the Cold War era.
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