New National Security strategy a major development for the private sector
The new National Security Strategy should generate a more integrated approach to national security

Private sector should be integral to any security strategy

London, 17 March 2008—A National Security Strategy (NSS) should be seen as the first step in the development of a more integrated approach to UK national security, according to Admiral Sir Ian Forbes, Senior Advisor to Booz & Company in London.

His Viewpoint The National Security Debate – An Insight shows that changes to the national security architecture made since 9/11 are likely to be superseded with the imminent publication of the new National Security Strategy.

“National security is complex and wide-ranging. Globalisation means that new critical, inter-connecting risks have emerged. Threats no longer emanate from nation states exclusively, but from a range of non-state actors, formless in their design and practice. So a compartmentalised approach to national security is no longer appropriate, ” says Sir Ian.

The research identifies four major categories of risks to national security stability:
- Globalisation
- Climate change
- Deepening ideological divisions
- Efficiency drives

Under the previous Prime Minister changes were made to the way in which Government managed security in response to these risks. But the pre-existing security machinery was retained, reordered in places and partially reshaped in others.

Gordon Brown MP, before becoming Prime Minister, had already indicated that the UK’s future prosperity depends on national security, and that responsibility for national security should therefore be addressed by all government departments, not just one or two.

The NSS is likely to better coordinate national security activity between domestic, defence and overseas affairs by bringing defence policy and diplomacy directly into a national security agenda driven from Downing Street. A new National Security Committee with its own budget is likely to be chaired by the Prime Minister. But the research shows that government departments should be more integrated to tackle the threats.

“The changes the NSS could offer represent a significant step in the development of a more integrated approach to national security. Time will tell whether the level of integration achieved downstream of NSS implementation is up to the task,” adds Sir Ian.

With much of the UK’s critical infrastructure being held by the private sector there is a clear role for it in a National Security Strategy. Currently the departmentalised approach to national security means that the private sector’s involvement is also compartmentalised. This means there is real scope for duplication and ineffective use of funds.

“The private sector is searching for a credible engagement model, particularly in those areas where its interest is as much about commercialism as it is about security,” says Sir Ian.

Where government departments are responsible for intelligence and counter terrorism there will be a need for a more networked approach as the NSS beds down.

“There is, therefore, a strong case for greater public/private cooperation in security issues. The hope is that the NSS will offer the prospect of this,” adds Sir Ian.