House of Commons Library

The Modernising Defence Programme

Published Friday, December 21, 2018

This Commons Library briefing paper examines the Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) published by the Ministry of Defence in December 2018.

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Spun out of the  National Security Capability Review, conducted earlier this year, the Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) was seen as a mini defence review, and was expected to lay out how the Ministry of Defence positioned itself to respond to a world that has become more uncertain and volatile since 2015 and address budgetary problems in its equipment programmes.

It is a relatively short document that firstly recounts developments in defence since 2015 and assesses current and future threats before identifying three broad areas it will now prioritise, tagged under the headings Mobilise, Modernising and Transform.

Reaction was muted. The shadow Defence Secretary said it was “underwhelming” and failed to address the MOD’s budgetary issues, while SNP Defence spokesman described the conclusions as “extremely thin”.

Some welcomed the fact it did not announce any cuts to specific capabilities, while others suggested it was setting the ground for the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review in 2019.

Media coverage afterwards was led not so much by the contents of the MDP but by the Defence Secretary’s comment that 3,500 service personnel are ready to support any Department dealing with a crisis in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

This short briefing paper summarises the key points of the MDP and initial reaction from Members of Parliament and defence analysts.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8469

Author: Louisa Brooke-Holland

Topics: Armed forces, Defence equipment and procurement, Defence policy

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The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.