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British defence planning and Britain’s NATO commitment, 1979 – 1985

White, K. ORCID: (2016) British defence planning and Britain’s NATO commitment, 1979 – 1985. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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In 1979 Britain committed almost 120,000 ground troops and almost the entire Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to NATO’s defence of Western Europe. 100,000 troops were assigned to Home Defence, and Britain would acts as a staging post for foreign troops on their way to the front. Did Britain really have the means to mobilise, transport and supply these forces, and defend itself, in the event of war? This is an analysis of the conventional defence planning of the UK, its relationship to the policy, and their possible and actual execution. Deterrent plans were aimed at the perceived threat: planning for the manifestation of that threat, and implementing those plans, is analysed in detail. These plans relate intimately to NATO's "Flexible Response" strategy and the desire to raise the nuclear threshold enabling NATO to stop a WTO attack by conventional means. Analysing the plans for mobilisation, and comparing them to the forces and facilities available, this thesis seeks to understand if the UK fulfilled its obligation, not only to NATO, but also to the Armed Forces and British public. Following the end of the Cold War, the idea the ‘teeth’ could be sharpened at the expense of the ‘tail’ persisted, and has now grown to dangerous proportions. Pursuing the ‘efficiency’ thread the Armed Forces have been cut to the smallest level for 100 years, yet asked to do more. There is a large group, both military and political, who believe the policy worked and caused the fall of the Soviet Union. This thinking persists in policy even after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. With the increasing tensions in Eastern Europe and the Pacific, and the British Armed Forces at their smallest for over a century, this post hoc analysis is dangerous.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Gray, C.
Thesis/Report Department:Graduate Institute of Politics and International Studies
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:69597


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