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Research Questions

  1. What are the high-level core military requirements for global mobility out to 2040 and where are there likely to be potential shortfalls vis-à-vis the current Equipment Plan?
  2. What options exist for delivery of global mobility out to 2040 and what are the high-level trade-offs associated with each?
  3. What are the high-level implications of these options for future force design and capability planning?

The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, published by the UK Government in March 2021, presents an ambitious vision of a 'Global Britain' that has a persistent presence around the world and contributes to tackling a range of crises both at home and abroad.

To deliver on this vision, the UK Armed Forces will need the right force design and mix of military capabilities to enable them to be 'in the right place at the right time', while also supporting wider cross-government priorities.

This study identifies the likely changes in mobility requirements between now and 2040 and outlines a range of options to deliver global mobility in dynamic threat and policy environments. The following options were explored in greater detail: the use of multi-role platforms; international collaboration; commercial solutions; uncrewed or optionally crewed lightweight assets; data-driven and data-enabled mobility and additive manufacturing.

Key Findings

  • Requirements for global mobility will be shaped by different factors, including: the changing nature of the threat environment; an increasingly contested physical; cyber and electromagnetic environment; as well as climate-degraded areas and political obstacles from nations refusing access, basing and overflight.
  • Developments in the information environment, cyberspace and space hold the potential seamlessly to integrate data between various systems, for example through a 'digital backbone', and achieve better situational awareness. However, at the same time, security and operational risks are magnified as adversaries might hack, jam, spoof, gain access to or outright disable or destroy such capabilities.
  • Wider political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental (PESTLE) trends will also shape requirements for global mobility. These include urbanisation, climate change and net zero objectives, developments in the commercial sector, particularly in automation, autonomy and advanced manufacturing, or shifting alliances and partnerships—many of which Defence cannot influence alone but will need to help shape or mitigate.

Recommendations

  • Place more focus on resilience and less on efficiency to better resource global mobility delivery
  • Map the vulnerabilities across Defence's mobility assets and infrastructure to help address areas of risk
  • Increase the protection and survivability of mobility assets and infrastructure to enable operations in a range of threat environments
  • Approach mobility from a 'Multi-Domain Integration' perspective to increase synergies across the joint force
  • Work with partners and allies to improve access, basing and overflight and freedom to operate in key regions
  • Approach global mobility from a sustainability and net carbon zero perspective to ensure alignment with broader government sustainability goals

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Requirements for global mobility

  • Chapter Three

    Options for delivering mobility

  • Chapter Four

    Implications for future force design

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusions and recommendations

  • Annex A

    Interviewees

Research conducted by

This research was commissioned by the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and conducted by RAND Europe.

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