Oct 17, 2019
This study challenges the traditional relationships between the UK's military, government and people. It examines the relevance of the construct for the 21st Century and what this evolving relationship means for the nature of the utility of force.
The presence of a communication gap between the government and the public on matters of defence policy can undermine the development of strategy and potential for the coherent use of military force. The Global Strategic Partnership (GSP) was therefore commissioned by the UK's Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) to challenge the traditional relationships between the UK's military, government and people, explore the relevance of the construct for the 21st Century, and the implications of this evolving relationship for the nature of the utility of force. The British government perceives the public as reluctant to support the cost of defence and unpersuaded of the utility of military force. Yet the formation of effective strategy in a democracy requires conversations both between the government and its civil service and armed forces, and between the government and its electorate. These two conversations are often conducted in different registers, undermining the coherence of national strategy. Moreover, the public is not a monolith, but a community that includes opinion formers, spouses of service personnel, and former armed forces personnel, all of them groups whose members engage with the use of force as do those in government. To generate a mature attitude to the use of armed force and, if necessary, to the utility of war itself, Britain will require a mature debate about defence—one that trusts and engages the public, allows the armed forces to participate in the discussion, and in which the government enables and enhances the structures to permit those conversations.
The problem: British doubts regarding the use of military force
The supposed 'fickleness' of democracy
The problem's formulation: the Clausewitzian trinity and the importance of the people to effectiveness in war
The place of the people in making national strategy: Four approaches
The implications for national security
Conclusions and policy implications