Getting it right in uncertain times : the defence priorities of the United States, the United Kingdom and France


  • Eva Hagström Frisell
  • Kristina Zetterlund

Publish date: 2013-07-11

Report number: FOI-R--3695--SE

Pages: 88

Written in: English


  • US
  • UK
  • France
  • defence policy
  • policymakers
  • defence budget
  • geographical priorities
  • cyber security
  • light footprint
  • counterinsurgency
  • special operations forces
  • capacity building
  • UAVs
  • defence collaborations


This study analyses the thinking among policymakers and security policy experts in the United States, the United Kingdom and France with regard to the future focus of defence policies and programmes. What are the new priorities likely to be in these countries, given tight defence budgets, uncertain threats and the removal of Afghanistan as the main focus of military efforts? The combination of limited resources and the breadth of potential threats means that prioritising becomes all the more central. Similarly, the restricted purse strings could call for cooperation between allies to achieve synergies, as well as a certain division of labour in terms of niche capabilities or geographical focus. The study considers whether the three countries agree or diverge on future defence needs, revealing possible causes of friction in collaborative efforts. The analysis examines the countries' domestic policy setting, their perceived interests and threats in terms of geographical focus, and their chosen doctrinal and operational approaches to meet tomorrow's uncertainties.