A Defence Review is the process by which government of the United Kingdom decides upon its overall defence policy and upon the means and resources devoted to achieving its defence objectives. Such reviews can happen when political or economic factors dictate, such as upon a change of Government. The Defence Review will normally result in the publication of a policy document, styled a White Paper and released to parliament as a Command paper, setting out the broad aims, objectives, and rationale for the policy and strategy.
Post World War II Defence Reviews
The United Kingdom governmental carries out Defence Reviews infrequently, usually upon a change of government or major political event, such as just after the Collapse of Communism. They can also be necessitated by economic crises, as in 1974 and 2010.
British Defence Reviews since the end of World War II include:
- 1957 Defence White Paper
- 1966 Defence White Paper
- 1974 Defence White Paper (also known as the Mason review)
- 1981 Defence White Paper (also known as the John Nott review)
- 1990 Options for Change
- 1998 Strategic Defence Review
- Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010
- Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015
Other Defence Policy Statements
United Kingdom governments have also conducted policy reviews which cover specific aspects of defence but do not purport to be fundamental reappraisals of overall defence policy and strategy. Examples of these include:
- Front Line First
- SDR New Chapter
- Delivering Security in a Changing World
- Defence Industrial Strategy
Comparison with the United States
The main difference between the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and the United States Department of Defense as pertains to the review cycle is frequency. The U.S. DoD carries out its review, styled the Quadrennial Defense Review, on a set four-year cycle, whereas the UK MoD has no set timetable for any such review.