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The value of defence extends beyond providing security to a nation, offering benefits to both the economy and society in times of peace as well as conflict. Despite this, there is currently no common approach to measuring the value of defence, making it difficult to present a case for investment in this area when competing for limited public sector resources.

Recognising this, the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre within the UK Ministry of Defence asked RAND Europe to examine the 'value proposition' of UK defence, to provide a better understanding of why defence exists and explore how the value it brings to the nation can be better articulated across government, to partners and to the wider public.

Key Findings

Defence delivers value to society in a variety of direct and indirect forms, beyond the immediate benefits of protection against security threats. The UK Defence Value Proposition covers a range of interconnected components, each providing value in a different way:

  • Protecting the nation's people: Alongside protecting people at home and abroad, defence plays a role in supporting civil authorities during local and national emergencies. It also contributes to the protection of critical national infrastructure.
  • Insuring against an uncertain future: Defence works to anticipate future trends, to help identify both threats and opportunities that could arise for the nation. It also plays an important role in addressing security risks around new technologies and responding to new threats from environmental hazards and climate change.
  • Projecting global influence: Having a strong defence helps to ensure a voice in global decision making, as well as the promotion of the nation's values. Defence is active in building key partnerships and enhancing its credibility to shape the behaviours of both allies and adversaries.
  • Contributing to international security: National efforts contribute to the collective defence of overseas allies, helping to deter and prevent conflict and support a rules-based international order. This plays a key role in fulfilling the nation's moral and legal obligations.
  • Supporting the national economy: Defence provides a number of benefits to the economy, from securing the conditions necessary for trade to investing in research and enabling innovation. Defence also provides opportunities in economically deprived areas across the nation, investing in both people and skills.
  • Contributing to national identity and social welfare: Defence plays a role in contributing to the shared identity of the nation, fulfilling ceremonial roles in public life and helping to underpin local communities. It also strives to safeguard the nation's military heritage and promote civic and social integration.


Various factors affect how different groups view the values of defence, from evolving political contexts to personal circumstance. To help the UK defence articulate a more compelling value proposition to multiple audiences, this study recommends it should:

  • Seek to better understand the needs, wants and fears of different audiences.
  • Promote a common understanding and messaging across the defence enterprise.
  • Tell an engaging and relatable story and disseminate key messages in conjunction with partners across and outside of government.
  • Continue to gather evidence on measures of defence value, and a more robust understanding of the links between defence outputs and outcomes.
  • Promote a mature recognition of the costs and trade-offs associated with investing finite public resources in defence alongside other priorities.
  • Demonstrate confidence in the value of defence, recognising that its role in promoting policy objectives may not always be well understood by those defence serves.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was commissioned by the the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD)'s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) and conducted by RAND Europe.

This report is part of the RAND research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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