To paraphrase Sir Humphrey Appleby, the fictitious Cabinet Secretary in the BBC satire, Yes Prime Minister when considering UK defence efforts in 2013, "Perhaps I could suggest masterly inactivity".
The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) seems to have spent most of the past decade on a roller-coaster ride veering between high tempo military commitments and defense policy evolution, reorganization, review and reorganization.
From an operational standpoint, It feels likely that the United Kingdom will want to draw down its forces rapidly during the summer of 2013. Post a US election, the UK Government will be looking for a solid 12-18 months out of Afghanistan ahead of a General election to ensure it is no longer a live issue.
Should military action against Iran occur, the UK role one suspects will be largely symbolic or highly niche and thereby small in nature. Imagine submarine launched cruise missiles, special forces or in flight refueling support.
Therefore, leaving aside the bolt-out-of-the-blue, the tempo of military operations should be able to have some form of pause to reorientate, learn lessons and rebuild. The Royal Marines undergoing sea training ahead of a major amphibious exercise made the point in a recent edition of navy news that they are a little rusty on sea-survival. Time to get back to basics.
There will be likely little cost savings in the operational draw-down and perhaps the armed forces should be left until after the next election to take stock and enjoy a semblance of normality before the next opportunity for international events to weave their spell on politicians.