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RN sets out plans for more flexible operating posture

The Royal Navy's (RN's) Fleet Commander has signalled a major shift in how the RN will task and deploy maritime forces in an era of global persistent competition.

Speaking to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) First Sea Lord's Sea Power Conference on 19 May, Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd said the new security environment was driving the service to refresh its operational construct, its mindset, and its conceptual thinking. “The notional utility of sea power on the global stage is of course not new for the Royal Navy,” he told the conference, “but this is partly about renewing the muscle memory of operating more persistently to all corners of the globe, while also adapting to the new operating environment, not least the increase in threats.”

The RN has already started to understand how it will shape itself to meet the new strategic setting, said Vice Adm Kyd. “We're realigning our posture to optimise our numbers I'd like to have 50 frigates but we only have a certain limited capacity. So for me, it's all about optimising the fleet [with much work on availability], how we're going to deliver effects, and evolving our ways of operating that best meets the challenge of what is essentially a multi polar competition.”

This means, he added, “being ready for that ‘ lack wan' event where we trip into conflict when deterrence fails, or there is a miscalculation”.

The RN is also looking at its global footprint, and the attendant implications for training, force generation and support. “For me, its boiling down into three main buckets of activity,” Vice Adm Kyd told the IISS audience. “Firstly, meeting our responsibilities to the North Atlantic for homeland defence. That remains my centre of gravity, with our nuclear deterrent at its heart.

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