29 October 2019

Since the publication of the 2015 National Security Strategy (NSS) and accompanying Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), the UK’s strategic focus on the African continent has increased. Both the March 2018 National Security and Capabilities Review (NSCR) and December 2018 report on the Modernising Defense Programme (MDP) referred to the strategic importance of the UK’s engagement across the continent and in August 2018 former Prime Minister, Theresa May, embarked on a political tour of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa in a symbolic display of the UK's growing national focus on the continent. 

This ORG submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee's inquiry: 'Beyond Aid: The UK's Strategic Engagement in Africa' is drawn from field research conducted by the Oxford Research Group in Kenya and Mali in September 2018, as well as interviews with soldiers rotating out of Somalia and Nigeria between 2018 and 2019. 

The submission argues that, while progress has been made since the roll out of the Fusion Doctrine (the latest iteration of the whole of government approach) in March 2018, more strategic direction is required to ensure that operations across the African continent feed into national objectives, which complement non-military activities in-country. It is problematic, the submission concludes, that so many soldiers deployed on the ground appear to agree that the courses they are offering to partners do little to deal with the real problems affecting stability in the countries where they have been deployed. This is despite the latter - addressing the underlying drivers of conflict - appearing as a priority area in UK government strategy documents. Key to the future of success will be ensuring that bold rhetoric is matched by resources and sustained planning so the UK can improve its contribution to peace and stability in the countries it chooses to engage with.

The submission is published on the Foreign Affairs Committee's website here. To contact the author of the submission, please email: [email protected] 

The Remote Warfare Programme will be releasing a new report called: 'Fusion in Africa: Lessons learned from remote warfare in Africa', at an event on the 26th November, providing a more in-depth study on Fusion Doctrine based on the UK's use of remote warfare across the continent of Africa. 

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