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Transformation transformed : the ’War on Terror’ and the modernisation of the British military Lyon, Samuel

Abstract

This thesis assesses the transformation of the British Military from the mid-1990s up until the current day. It addresses how the end of the Cold War brought a change in what was demanded of the British Armed Forces, and that since then, those Forces have adapted to that changed demand, altering their structure, tactics and equipment in order to deal with these new tasks and to exploit technological changes. Yet, as this thesis explores, transformation has not proceeded at a uniform pace, with the British experiencing several stages of transformative progress, and some of regress. Starting with the Strategic Defence Review of 1998, this thesis traces the overall picture of transformation in the United Kingdom, looking at how it is managed, why it occurred, and where it is going. In particular though, it focuses on the stops and starts in the transformative process, and connects these primarily to the consequences of the Blair Government’s most important decision of all its time in power - being America’s closest ally after the terror attacks of September 11th 2001. Following these commitments, Britain committed to an even greater transformation of its military, set out in the Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter in 2002. The involvement of British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, as the closest and most significant allies of the United States, drove transformation through co-operation with the much more transformed American Forces, and also had the support of greatly increased funding from the Treasury, enabling leaps in equipment technology. Those same commitments have placed a strain on transformation, however, as the requirement on troops has become that of occupation, rather than advanced warfighting. Thus we see the tale of transformation as one greatly impacted by Britain’s involvement in the American-led ’War on Terror’.

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