Armed forces

All Commons Briefing Papers
107 Documents
27.01.2016Replacing the UK's Nuclear Deterrent
After nearly a decade of work on a programme to replace the UK's nuclear deterrent from the early 2030s, a decision on taking that programme forward will be made shortly. The Government is expected to seek the approval of Parliament for this decision. But what are the arguments for and against doing so? How much will it cost? And are there any other alternatives?
25.01.2016The South China Sea dispute: January 2016 update
Southeast Asia is home to a range of complex territorial disputes, but the most intractable and combustible is the South China Sea dispute. Tensions between the rival countries have been on the rise in recent years.
22.01.2016Iraq Historic Allegations Team
This Commons Library briefing paper describes the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT): when and why it was set up; its mandate, staff and methods; and its achievements. Its puts these in the context of other related investigations and recent publicity.
20.01.2016Housing options for serving and ex-military personnel (excluding service accommodation) (England)
an overview of the housing options available to serving and ex-military personnel in England.
12.01.2016The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review
This Commons Library briefing paper examines how the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review will affect the armed forces.
11.01.2016The UK National Security Council
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the UK National Security Council (NSC). Using a Q&A format, the briefing provides basic information about its origins, mandate and operation.
08.01.2016International Humanitarian Law: a primer
This Commons Library briefing paper is an introductory guide to International Humanitarian Law (IHL).
15.12.2015ISIS/Daesh: the military response in Iraq and Syria
US-led air strikes against ISIS continue in Iraq and Syria, alongside a training programme to build the capacity of Iraqi security forces. The UK has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq since September 2014 and has been providing training assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga. Following a vote in Parliament, the UK recently expanded its air campaign into Syria. But will it make a difference?
11.12.2015Armed Forces Bill 2015-16
The five-yearly Armed Forces Bill provides the legal basis for the UK's armed forces and its system of military law.
26.11.2015School funding: Pupil Premium
The introduction and development of the Pupil Premium policy since its introduction in 2011
19.11.2015A brief guide to previous British defence reviews
This note is a short guide to the main recommendations of the defence reviews that have taken place since the end of the Second World War, and whether those recommendations subsequently lived up to events.
19.11.2015The 2015 SDSR: a primer
A short introduction to the forthcoming 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review and the Armed Forces.
16.11.2015Social Indicators 2015
This Research Paper summarises a wide range of social statistics. Subjects covered include agriculture, crime, defence, education, elections, environment and energy, health, housing, local government, population and migration, social security and transport.
16.11.2015Defence employment: Social Indicators page
A summary of statistics on the strength of the armed forces
16.11.2015Defence expenditure: Social Indicators page
Defence expenditure: Social Indicators page. By Rob Page. SN/SG/2623.
05.11.2015The 2015 SDSR: a reading list
This paper is a reading list for the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) due to be published later this year
21.10.2015Defence Expenditure - NATO 2% Target
In 2006, NATO allies set a target to spend 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence. The UK continues to meet this target, but when reporting its defence expenditure to NATO, the UK now includes several items of expenditure which had not previously been included.
21.10.2015Defence Expenditure (NATO Target) Bill 2015 - 16
This Briefing Paper is prepared for the Second Reading of the Defence Expenditure (NATO Target) Bill on 23 October 2015.
11.09.2015Overview of military drones used by the UK Armed Forces
Remotely Piloted or Unmanned Aircraft, more commonly known as drones, have been described as the most contentious conventional weapons system currently in use. This note provides an overview of their use by the UK armed forces.
07.09.2015Armed forces pension reform,1995 - 2005
Covers the reform process which lead up to the introduction of Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005
24.08.2015Armed forces pensions - 2015
Looks at the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015
07.08.2015NATO's military response to Russia
NATO adopted a Readiness Action Plan in response to the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis. This note explains the main elements with a focus on the UK military contribution.
20.05.2015UK Military Assistance to Ukraine
UK military assistance to Ukraine is longstanding. However, in response to the current crisis in Eastern Ukraine that assistance has recently been stepped up with the provision of non-lethal equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces and the deployment of a UK military training team to the country.
20.05.2015How to apply for a military medal
Constituents may contact their Member of Parliament seeking advice on military medals. This briefing provides information on eligibility for military medals and how to apply.
20.05.2015Maintaining and funding war memorials
There are estimated to be over 100,000 war memorials in the UK. This note collates some useful resources for individuals seeking information on funding, maintenance and other war memorial related questions.
20.05.2015How to access military Service records
Constituents may contact a Member of Parliament seeking advice on how to access Service records. This briefing provides guidance on what information is available, and how to access it.
19.05.2015Key Issues for the 2015 Parliament
This book examines the key issues facing the House of Commons over the course of the 2015 Parliament - from the public finances to the UK's membership of the EU and from school places for children to climate change.
13.05.2015Parliamentary approval for military action
The deployment of the Armed Forces is currently a prerogative power. Parliament has no legally established role and the Government is under no legal obligation with respect to its conduct. In 2011 the Government acknowledged that a convention had emerged whereby the House of Commons would have the opportunity to debate the deployment of military forces, prior to doing so, except in the event of an emergency. The defeat of the Government in a vote on military action in Syria in August 2013 was widely viewed as an assertion of Parliamentary sovereignty on such matters. Yet many have argued that the convention lacks clarity and remains open to interpretation and exploitation. In 2011 the Government committed to legislate on this issue but by the end of the 2010-2015 Parliament no proposals were forthcoming. Going forward proponents of a formalised role for Parliament have suggested adopting a parliamentary resolution as either an interim step or as a viable alternative to legislation. Establishing either is fraught with difficulties and arguably, therefore, makes the continuation and strengthening of the current convention more likely in the immediate future.
06.03.2015Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill (HL): Progress of the Bill
The Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill (HL) 2013-14 completed all of its stages in the House of Commons. It will now go to the House of Lords for consideration.
23.01.2015Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill [HL]
An analysis of the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill as brought from the House of Lords. Second Reading is on 2 February 2015. The intention of the Bill is to reform the Service Complaints System and strengthen independent oversight of that system by converting the role of the current Service Complaints Commissioner into a Service Complaints Ombudsman. The Bill also includes a power to make payments to charities, benevolent organisations and others for the benefit of the armed forces community.
08.01.2015US Forces in the UK: legal agreements
The legal agreements governing the US Visiting Force in the United Kingdom.
26.09.2014Defence personnel statistics
This note provides information on the current and future strength of the UK Armed Forces
12.09.2014NATO Wales Summit 2014: outcomes
The 2014 NATO Wales Summit discussed Russia, Ukraine, Iraq, defence spending amongst allies and the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.
08.09.2014Military and Humanitarian Assistance to Iraq
The substantial gains made by Islamic State fighters in the last few months, which has seen ISIL forces advance on the northern city of Irbil and forced thousands of people from religious minorities to flee their homes, has prompted the US, UK and other Western governments to take more concerted action in Iraq.
06.08.2014Constituent casework: military medals
This note provides guidance and resources on a number of common questions concerning military medals.
06.08.2014In brief: Military Medals review update
The Government announced the outcome of the second stage of Sir John Holmes' review into military medals in July 2014. This now completes work into various retrospective medal campaigns. The government has stated that no further reviews of historic claims will now take place unless significant, new, evidence is produced that an injustice has occurred.
25.07.2014NATO Summit Wales 2014
The 2014 NATO Summit will be in Newport, Wales, in September.
16.06.2014Military options in Iraq
The UK Government is not planning a British military intervention in Iraq. This note summarises commentary about the possible military options for the UK and US in Iraq.
03.06.2014Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S)
Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) became a bespoke trading entity on 1 April 2014. This note explores what why the Government's preferred GOCO option failed and a trading entity means.
15.05.2014Armed Forces Pension Scheme and preserved pensions
Armed Forces Pension Scheme and preserved pensions
14.05.2014Women in combat: a bibliography
Women may soon be able to serve in combat roles in the Armed Forces. The current policy excluding women from ground close combat roles is to be reviewed and will report before the end of 2014. This note provides a short overview and a bibliography of sources of further reading.
06.05.2014Constituent casework: war memorials
Resources and information for Members' staff about war memorials.
24.04.2014Defence Reform Bill: Lords Amendments
The Defence Reform Bill provides for the reform the way in which the Ministry of Defence procures equipment and support for the Armed Forces and, separately, extends the scope for the use of the Reserve Forces. The Government made several amendments to the Bill during its passage through the House of Lords and the consolidated Lords amendments to the Bill are available as Bill 197 2013-14. The Bill returns to the Commons on 29 April 2014.
19.03.2014Prospects for Afghanistan as ISAF withdrawal approaches
2014 is a pivotal year for Afghanistan, with a crucial presidential election in April and the end of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission in December. Security overall is deteriorating in Afghanistan and although the Afghan National Security Forces are taking the lead, questions remain about their effectiveness and the government's dependence on international help to pay for them. It is unclear whether there will be any Western military presence after 2014. Negotiations with the Taliban do not seem to offer much hope.
14.02.2014The Military Justice System: an introduction
The Service Justice System provides a legal framework that ensures Service personnel are subject to a single disciplinary code that applies wherever they are serving.
24.01.2014Armed Forces Redundancies
The fourth and final tranche of the Armed Forces Redundancy Programme was announced on 23 January 2014. Over 11,000 personnel have made redundant since 2011 with a further 1,500 expected in 2014.
26.11.2013Report Stage and Third Reading of the Defence Reform Bill
Report Stage and Third Several amendments were tabled prior to Report stage, including one which sought to impose an obligation on the Government to report on the viability and cost-effectiveness of the plan to increase the size of the Reserves, which would then be subject to approval by both Houses before the Government could continue with its reform agenda. Despite the support of several Conservative backbenchers, that amendment was, however, defeated on division. A clause seeking to increase the leave entitlement of Reservists was also defeated. Reading of the Defence Reform Bill took place in the House of Commons on 20 November 2013.
29.10.2013Defence Reform Bill: Public Bill Committee Stage
This note looks at the discussion and amendments to the Bill made during the Public Bill Committee stage, and the wider debate on the Bill's proposals, in particular the establishment of a Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated (GOCO) model for Defence Equipment and Support.
18.10.2013UK withdrawal from Germany: the end of an era
British forces have been permanently stationed in Germany since 1945. The Government announced in 2010 as part of its Strategic Defence and Security Review that all 20,000 Service personnel will be withdrawn by 2020. This note provides a short overview of the withdrawal plans.
03.10.2013Future Reserves 2020
The Ministry of Defence has proposed significant changes to the UK's Reserve Forces. A White Paper was published in July 2013. This note examines the proposals, why they have been made and reaction to them.
11.09.2013Citizenship (Armed Forces) Bill
This briefing has been prepared for the Second Reading debate on the Citizenship (Armed Forces) Bill on 13 September 2013. The Bill, which was published on 3 September 2013, is sponsored by Jonathan Lord MP, who came third in the 2013-14 ballot for Private Members' Bills.
19.08.2013In Brief: International Military Forces in Mali
As offensive military operations in the country have begun to wind down concerns remain that Malian and foreign forces will now face a protracted insurgency from Islamic militants who have continued to conduct counter-attacks from the north of the country.
11.07.2013Defence Reform Bill
The Defence Reform Bill was introduced in the House of Commons on 3 July 2013. Second Reading has been tabled for 16 July 2013.
21.06.2013The Ushakov Medal
British veterans of the Arctic Convoys will be allowed to accept and wear the Russian Ushakov Medal.
10.06.2013In brief: Iraq abuse judgment of May 2013
24.05.2013In brief: UK withdrawal from Afghanistan
The drawdown of British troops in Afghanistan has begun. The number of British troops in Afghanistan will be reduced to 5,200 by the end of 2013.
10.05.2013In brief: Future Reserves 2020
The Defence Reform Bill announced during the Queen's Speech 2013 will increase the size and role of the Reserve Forces. This note provides a short overview of the changes proposed to the Reserve Forces.
25.04.2013Military Search and Rescue to end in 2016
The Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy will no longer provide a Search and Rescue Helicopter service in the UK after March 2016. A wholly civilian service run by Bristow Helicopters Ltd and managed by the Department for Transport will provide the Search and Rescue Helicopter capability for the UK.
17.04.2013Military forces in Syria and the rise of the jihadis
Sunni fundamentalist groups are now thought by some to be the most important force in the Syrian rebellion.
16.04.2013Defence Estate Rationalisation
This note provides a summary of the main changes to the defence estate that have been announced since the Army basing review was published in March 2013. Further decisions on aspects of the defence estate, including the training estate and the Reserves estate are expected to be made over the course of 2013. This note will be updated as and when those plans are announced.
03.04.2013Army Basing Review 2013
The outcome of the Army Basing Review was announced on 5 March 2013. This note summarises the main changes envisaged under those plans and where they differ from the previous basing decisions announced in 2011.
05.02.2013The crisis in Mali: current military action and upholding humanitarian law
This note describes the current military intervention in Mali, led by France, which began on 11 January as a reaction to the southward advance of militant Islamist armed groups with links to al-Qaeda. It also looks at the intervention in the context of upholding humanitarian law.
04.01.2013The Armed Forces Covenant
The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the Government and the Armed Forces. It was published in May 2011 and its core principles were enshrined in law, for the first time, in the Armed Forces Act 2011. It applies to all three services. The Government published the first annual report in December 2012.
27.07.2012Medal Campaigns
Examines the process by which campaign medals are instituted, the rules governing the acceptance and wearing of foreign medals, and some of the medal campaigns that are currently underway. Summarises the findings of the interim Military Medals Review.
26.07.2012Army 2020
The Ministry of Defence announced a major re-structuring of the British Army in July 2012. This note looks at what the restructure involves and which regiments and battalions it affects.
26.07.2012Olympic Britain
Olympic Britain tells the story of the profound economic and social change in the UK since the two previous London Olympics, in 1908 and 1948, using statistics and expert analysis. The book can also be browsed using the Parliament website at
09.07.2012Afghanistan: The Timetable for Security Transition
NATO assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in August 2003. At its summit in Chicago in May 2012, NATO confirmed ISAF's mission will end on 31 December 2014. It also mapped out the transition of security for Afghanistan from ISAF to Afghan National Security Forces. Specifically, it set the goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for security nation-wide by mid-2013.
15.06.2012In Brief: Armed Forces Day 2012
Armed Forces Day will be held on 30 June 2012.
31.05.2012In brief: Guinea-Bissau - has the 12 April coup been overturned or rewarded?
A 12 April coup has provoked renewed political crisis in the West African state of Guinea Bissau. On 20 May there was an ECOWAS-backed deal under which power was ostensibly returned to civilians, but there is concern about its credibility and legitimacy. The crisis is likely to set-back recent efforts to strengthen Guinea-Bissau's capacity to combat drug-trafficking and thereby shed its reputation as a 'narco-state'. In a country where there are regular military coups, no president has completed a full term in office since the mid 1990s.
29.03.2012In brief: Afghanistan - timetable to 2014
This note provides a brief outline of the timetable for withdrawal of NATO combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014.
08.02.2012The Defence of the Falkland Islands
This note looks at the UK defence presence in the Falkland Islands and reviews the current debate about whether the Islands are adequately defended in the event of future aggression.
16.12.2011Privatisation of RAF/Royal Navy Search and Rescue
15.11.2011The Arab Uprisings
Since December 2010, the most profound process of change has affected the countries of the Arab world. The change spread quickly between the countries of the region, underlining the many common factors that provoked unrest. How the region's revolutions progress, however, depends on the individual characteristics of each country, which are very different. This paper looks at these similarities and differences and considers the possible outcomes in each case. The legitimacy of ruling regimes, the effect of societies' divisions along confessional lines and the role of the region's militaries are considered.
14.11.2011Defence Basing Review
Since October 2010 the MOD has been conducting a basing review to examine all of the issues that arose out of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. The conclusions of that review were announced in the House on 18 July 2011. In November 2011 the MOD announced the first tranche of moves envisaged under the rebasing programme.
03.11.2011Armed Forces Bill: Lords Amendments
Six amendments to the Armed Forces Bill were agreed at Lords Third Reading which took place on 10 October, including several tabled or supported by the Government. This note briefly examines those amendments.
24.10.2011Military Operations in Libya
Military action to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1973 in Libya
15.06.2011Armed Forces Bill: Committee Stage Report
The Committee of the Whole House debate on the Armed Forces Bill took place on 14 June 2011. All of the Government's amendments to the Bill relating to the call-out of the Reserves and the Armed Forces Covenant were adopted. Several other amendments and new clauses relating to the Covenant and the publication of defence statistics were defeated on division. Report Stage and Third Reading of the Bill is scheduled for 16 June 2011.
13.06.2011Amendments to the Armed Forces Bill
This note examines the Committee of the Whole House amendments to the Armed Forces Bill that have been tabled thus far.
09.06.2011Armed Forces Covenant
The Government published the first tri-Service Armed Forces Covenant on 16 May 2011. This note examines the background to the Covenant and some of the measures to support it that the Government intends to introduce over the next few years.
09.06.2011Armed Forces Bill: Consideration in Select Committee
Unlike the majority of Government Bills, the Armed Forces Bill has traditionally been committed to a specially convened Select Committee after Second Reading, which sits only for the duration of the Bill. Three oral evidence sessions were held in early February 2011 on some of the general themes associated with the Bill. Armed Forces welfare and the section of the Bill relating to the Military Covenant received particular attention. Those sessions were then followed by four sessions dedicated to formal consideration of the Bill. Several amendments relating to clause 2 of the Bill were moved in Committee, but after extensive debate were defeated on division. The Special Report of the Select Committee was published on 10 March 2011 (HC 779, Session 2010-11).
04.04.2011No-Fly Zone Over Libya: Suggested Reading
UN Security Council Resolution 1973 adopted on 17 March 2011, established, among other things, a no-fly zone over Libya. This note provides a list of suggested reading material on the arguments for and against the establishment of a no fly zone over Libya and its likelihood of success.
22.12.2010Security-related incidents, paramilitary-style attacks, and deaths due to the security situation in Northern Ireland
Security-related incidents, paramilitary-style attacks, and deaths due to the security situation in Northern Ireland. By Ross Young. SN/SG/2229.
17.12.2010Armed Forces Bill [Bill 122 of 2010-11]
The purpose of the Armed Forces Bill is to provide the legal basis for the Armed Forces and the system of military law which exists in the UK. It also offers an opportunity to make necessary amendments, such as those required by changes to civilian law in the UK or as a result of cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights. The Bill has also been used, on occasion, to introduce new measures relating to the Armed Forces that fall outside the Bill's traditional remit.
03.11.2010Strategic Defence and Security Review: Defence Policy and the Armed Forces
20.10.2010In Brief: Strategic Defence and Security Review - Headline Recommendations for the Armed Forces
Five months after entering office the Coalition Government published its Strategic Defence and Security Review on 19 October 2010. The following note is a guide to the principal recommendations and conclusions of that review which relate to the Armed forces specifically. It will be followed by a more detailed paper on the wider recommendations of the SDSR, and their implications, in the near future.
15.10.2010Georgia after the 2008 war
President Saakashvili's second term expires in 2013. Whether the election is won by a more Moscow-friendly successor will be critical for the progress of Russia's efforts to establish its ""zone of privileged interest". Critics of the US administration may say that Obama's decision to "press the reset button" on relations with Russia has betrayed Georgia's ambitions to join western countries.
19.08.2010Afghanistan: Towards a Handover of Security Responsibility?
14.07.2010Military Campaign in Afghanistan
26.05.2010Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS) replaced both the War Pensions Scheme and 'attributable' benefits payable under the old Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) for service personnel experiencing ill health, injury or death arising from service-related incidents on or after 6 April 2005. This note outlines the scheme and changes made to it since its introduction.
12.05.2010Iraq: Multinational Forces after the Drawdown
11.02.2010Strategic Defence Review Green Paper: Preliminary Observations
The Government published its defence Green Paper on 3 February 2010. The observations and recommendations in that paper will now inform the work of a Strategic Defence Review which the Government has committed to undertaking shortly after the General Election. The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats have also stated that they will hold a defence review should they take office. This note sets out some of the background to the Green Paper, its main conclusions and some initial reactions within Parliament, the media and the wider defence community. This briefing will eventually form part of a larger Library Research Paper on the forthcoming Strategic Defence Review.
14.07.2009Afghanistan: Equipment Issues
24.04.2009Russia's Military Posture
This paper examines Russia's current military posture. It does not attempt to be a comprehensive examination of every aspect of Russian military policy but is intended as an introduction to some of the more pertinent aspects, including Russia's military capabilities, its ability to defend its increasingly diverse strategic interests and the credibility of Russia's modernisation and rearmament programme which was announced toward the end of 2008.
09.02.2009The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan
This note is intended to be a brief guide to the mandate upon which those forces are deployed; the command and control of forces in the country and the integration of ISAF with the US-led Operation Enduring freedom; current troop contributions and future force rotation plans and commitments. It does not examine either wider political and economic developments in Afghanistan or the ccounter narcotics strategy.
07.01.2009The Future of Coalition Forces in Iraq
This note examines the legal basis for the ongoing presence of Coalition forces in Iraq, current troop commitments and plans for the future.
27.11.2008Parliamentary Approval for Deploying the Armed Forces: An introduction to the issues.
Parliamentary Approval for Deploying the Armed Forces: An introduction to the issues. This paper examines the debate on the Royal prerogative and parliamentary approval for the deployment of the Armed Forces.
12.02.2008China's Military Posture
07.12.2005Armed Forces Bill (Bill 94 of 2005-06)
The Armed Forces Bill (Bill 94 2005-06). House of Commons Library Research Paper 05/86
11.11.2005Background to the forthcoming Armed Forces Bill.
17.09.2004Defence White Paper
The Defence White Paper. House of Commons Library Research Paper 04/71.
17.09.2004Defence White Paper:future capabilities
The Defence White Paper: future capabilities. House of Commons Library Research Paper 04/72.
08.01.2004Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Bill (Bill 10 2003/04)
Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Bill (Bill 10 2003/04). House of Commons Library Research Paper 04/05.
20.09.2002Iraq: the debate on policy options
Iraq: the debate on policy options. House of Commons Library Research Paper 02/53.
19.07.2002Defence Statistics - July 2002
Defence Statistics - July 2002. House of Commons Library Research Paper 02/48.
21.12.2000Defence Statistics 2000
Defence Statistics 2000. House of Commons Library Research Paper 00/99. (Updates RP 99/112).
04.02.2000Armed Forces Discipline Bill (HL) (Bill 61 of 1999/2000)
Armed Forces Discipline Bill (HL) (Bill 53 of 1999/2000). House of Commons Library Research Paper 00/12.
15.10.1998The Strategic Defence Review White Paper
The strategic defence review White Paper. House of Commons Library Research Paper 98/91.