Developing the Defence Guidance for Integrated Working

Colored lines wrapping around and merging into an arrow, photo by Rudzhan/Adobe Stock.

While UK integration has improved recently at the strategic level of Defence, a gap exists in established practice and doctrine at operational and tactical levels.

What is the issue?

UK Defence operates in a rapidly evolving environment which has produced increasing pressures to effectively integrate military, political, economic and other levers of national influence. In 2018, the National Security Capability Review introduced the Fusion Doctrine in a corresponding effort to improve cross-government integration, including between Defence and other government departments. Since the introduction of Fusion Doctrine, various developments have taken place in UK Defence policy and doctrine for collaborative working. However, Defence has recognised that it is vital to further foster ways of working that optimise Defence’s integration with Partners Across Government, including through dedicated guidance that supports integrated delivery of UK government objectives.

How did we help?

RAND Europe and Opimian Ltd developed the Defence Guidance for Integrated Working for defence personnel. It is designed to increase the effectiveness of collaborative working between Defence and Partners Across Government. Through independent research and analysis, the study characterised the nature, scope, limitations and benefits of existing integration guidance and practice, as well as identifying opportunities for strengthening integrated working between Defence and its Partners Across Government. This research has been oriented chiefly at the tactical and operational, rather than strategic levels of cross-government engagement, as well as integration in the context of the implementation of national security objectives overseas.

The study and development of the guidance drew on reviews of relevant Defence sources and open-source literature, interviews with military and civilian practitioners from UK Defence and other government departments, and internal as well as external workshops to validate and refine the guidance for military personnel.

What did we find?

While UK integration has improved recently at the strategic level of Defence, the study confirmed that a gap exists in established practice and doctrine at the operational and tactical levels. Three priority areas were highlighted for strengthening integrated working between military personnel and Partners Across Government, which would need to be embedded in the guidance to address the gap:

  • Ensuring a common and clearly articulated understanding of Defence, other departments’ as well as wider government objectives, and improving Defence’s understanding of the broader (including local) context of integration;
  • Streamlining existing, or developing new, structures and processes for integration where necessary to ensure coherent delivery of governmental objectives, including in relation to planning and communication; and
  • Improving mutual understanding of Defence and other departments’ organisational cultures and ways of working to make sure personnel can navigate potential differences between them.

What can be done?

As captured in the Defence Guidance for Integrated Working, the study identified several overarching principles that defence personnel should refer to when working with partners from other government departments:

  • Foster integration through developing good relationships with partners
  • Engage to build trust and understanding of each others’ objectives and cultures
  • Have empathy for the objectives of others
  • Be self-aware of how you appear to others
  • Understand how to navigate complexity and uncertainty in a supportive way
  • Avoid departmental jargon and use plain English
  • Understand the local context for Defence-Partner integration

Further to the overarching principles, the study proposed three sets of guiding questions that defence personnel should refer to when working in a cross-government setting. These guiding questions were oriented at understanding the context of integration, the available structures and processes, and the different organisational cultures and ways of working that can affect integration.