Uploaded by bw_party_liaison

What must a future Officer Corps be and what should it feel like?

Spring 2011
What must a
future Officer
Corps be and
what should it
feel like?
This article is intended as an early
contribution to the likely debate on the
nature of the officer corps – Editor.
Colonel Paul Buttery
Selection procedures both for
membership and promotion must
be relevant to the primary purpose
of the enterprise. It is rarely wise
to criticise selection procedures and
criteria too heavily without prior
reflection on the degree of success
which the enterprise in question
achieves in the discharge of its
primary function.
General Sir John Hackett
The question posed runs to the heart
of what could be called ‘officership’1.
The Officer Corps has 3 key threads: an
enduring thread, an evolutionary thread
and one that is transitory. Each thread
comprises a number of strands. The
enduring strands include the need for
regeneration2, ethos, professionalism,
apolitical and people. The evolutionary
strands include doctrine, culture,
organisations, alliances, training,
demographics and resources. The final
thread is transitory in nature and at
any one moment in time will include
different strands, some of which endure
for longer than others. These transitory
strands might include: operational
experience, equipment and technology,
information, fashion and lifestyles and
political policy. Figure 1 shows these
strands and threads.
Figure 1: Threads of the Officer Corps
Figure 1 also suggests that the Officer
Corps of the future might be shaped
by assuring the enduring thread,
developing the evolutionary thread
and by predicting and preparing for
the transitory thread. Using the model
in figure 1, as the vehicle, this essay
will introduce many of the strands and
make suggestions as to how they can be
assured, developed or predicted and thus
provide insight as to what the future
officer corps should be and might feel
Enduring Strands
There are 3 aspects to this strand:
the Army and its officer corps as an
organisation, the officer corps operating
and working in the political space and
thirdly, the representation of individuals.
Oliver Cromwell by Robert Walker (NPG)
Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army was
the first British Army to be subordinated
to civilian political control. Since then
the Army has remained essentially
‘apolitical’, with no political affiliation
or obvious bias. The Army’s client is the
Nation. Direction, from the Nation to
the Army, is vested in the democratically
elected politicians. This subordination
ensures that the Nation’s interests are
best served and the power of the military
is kept in check. Despite the Army
having no political party affiliations
it has become increasingly involved
in Government policy. As Clausewitz
explains, war is just an extension
of policy, but the Army has become
increasingly involved in activities that
remain an extension of government
policy but are not war. For example the
Army has been used as an agent for the
Government, when other public service
bodies3 have been unable or unwilling
to act. These types of military task
will continue and the officer corps will
have to remain diplomatic and operate
without prejudice.
Remaining apolitical is a great strength
that the Army must preserve, but honest,
apolitical, military advice must continue
to be provided to politicians. It should
be given with the nation’s interests at
heart. In debate, with the nation’s elites,
the Army must be able to hold its own
and put a strong argument forward when
necessary. The Army has been very good
at producing officers that are strong on
The British Army Review Number 151
paper and have excellent presentational
skills, but weak in argument4. The officer
corps must develop individuals that are
adept at operating in the political space
and perhaps aim at longer continuity
in posts and ensure that the officers
have the correct skills to succeed.
More emphasis could be placed on
debating and programming during officer
education, allowing a greater number of
students to develop these intellectual
Army will remain apolitical but politically
aware as it will continue to operate on
the fringe of the political space and
engaged on non-core activities. However,
Army officers will develop a stronger
sense of self; want to strongly defend
positions and develop a more robust
mechanism for doing so – a federation
Traditionally, the Government has been
the guardian of the Army’s conditions
of service so there has been little
need for representation. Individual
expectations have been represented by
an independent body that has acted
in the Forces’ best interests. However,
evidence5 exists that personnel no longer
feel that they can rely on either the
Government or senior military leadership
to represent their interests. In a period
that sees increasing competition for
dwindling resources being able to argue
strongly the Army’s case must be assured
else trust will be eroded. Frustration
may lead some to alternative methods
of representation. This could lead to
an increase in the politicalisation of
individuals that demand a more formal
body to represent them such as a
z An Army Federation – a stronger
voice for the Army?
In the future, as an organisation, the
Insight or future possibilities:
z A branch of the Officer Corps
that is focussed on Government
and politicians
z The officer corps will become
increasingly politicised if
independent review bodies fail
to adequately represent and
protect individual expectations.
z Demilitarisation of the political
space and redefining military
core business (application of
The British Army officer corps is a
professional all volunteer body, but
professionalism means different
things to different people: from good
moral character to keeping a desk
Berlin - Kriegsakademie, Unter den Linden (Wikimedia)
tidy6. Despite this broad spectrum of
professionalism this essay assumes that
a professional officer has a high degree
of expertise that has been developed
through education and experience. The
expertise is defined7 by the ability to
apply military force, having specific skills
and knowledge, being able to judge when
to use the force and being creative in
thinking. Perhaps the first professional
officer corps was created by the Prussian
Army, which then evolved into the
German General Staff. The Prussian
Officers studied at the Kriegsakademie
and the mandatory studies included:
tactics, military history, weaponry,
fortifications, staff work, military
geography, communications, logistics,
military law and military medicine8. The
British Army continues to need a people
that can think as the contemporary
problems that it has to face require
increasingly complex solutions.
Working through a ‘wicked’ problem
requires constant intellectual
engagement, creativity and mental
agility. Learning by rote has its place,
but education is the principal way to
develop minds of the officer corps and
cognitive capacity harnessed. Soldiering
is becoming an increasingly scholarly
activity9 but officers must not become
‘nerdish’. The officer corps needs to
be a body of professional war fighters
– experts in managing violence and
imbuing the men and women under their
command with warrior spirit. However,
it is suggested10 that an Army that
has promotion criteria that constantly
favours operations and command will not
grow the best leadership despite aligning
the officer corps to civilian recognised
professional institutions to enhance
professional development.
National Service ended about 50 years
ago. Since then the proportion of the
British population that has direct
military experience has diminished.
Consequently, the political elites
know less and less about the military
profession and in many cases do not
care. So when pressure is placed on
Government to make policy changes,
harm could be done inadvertently (or
even intentionally – Ed.) to warfighting
Spring 2011
capability. This pressure increases the
need for the British Officer Corps to
remain well educated and to continue
to attract the right numbers of the
nation’s best people. Despite continued
investment in officer education, the
result of increased civilianisation of the
organisation, through a Whole Force
approach, could reduce the overall
level of professionalism (experts at
applying violence). It is therefore vital
that officer education is protected. A
smaller professional cadre of even better
educated officers will, in themselves,
become an elite group; a new General
Staff? It will have to resist the pressures
of increased civilianisation and the risk
of becoming marginalised by military
non-professionals. There could be an
unhealthy tension between different
Insight or future possibilities:
z Developing the skills of and
educating civilians in the Army.
z Streamed career profiles.
z A smaller officer corps that
sheds non-core military
elements eg procurement.
The British Army ethos sustains cohesion
that stems from its distinctive character
and identity11. This is embodied in the
regimental system and emphasises
comradeship, example, pride, leadership
and a warrior spirit. Within the Officer
Corps what constitutes ethos is widely
understood, as are the Army’s values and
standards that draw from it.
Despite widespread acknowledgement,
anecdotal evidence suggests that
the Army’s moral values12 are not as
well found in British society. Recent
research13 indicates a poor appreciation
of the Army’s Values and Standards in
its junior leaders, making it important
that more senior commanders provide
the moral guidance. It has also been
noted14 that an individual’s commitment
to the Service becomes more transient
especially in those that are engaged on
shorter engagements and as they move
towards civilian life their service became
more occupational than professional.
This trait may already be appearing
within the Army’s Officer Corps as
redundancy hangs over it. This is likely
to persist and probably extend as long as
career uncertainty remains.
Regardless of whether the decline in
altruistic officers is real or perceived,
the fact remains that officers must think
morally. This ethics based thinking is at
the heart of leadership and maintaining
moral high ground can provide strategic
advantage. The Army recruits from, but
does not necessarily reflect the Nation,
as the Nation’s moral compass has
become more self-centred15, despite an
ethical foreign policy. Recent experience
in Iraq and Afghanistan may have the
result of making the Nation less inclined
to intervene and choose not to invest
blood and treasure in foreign lands.
The re-aligning of the Nation’s moral
compass could be related to, and be an
aggregation of, the individual’s moral
compass that has become increasingly
‘Old fashioned’ military virtues do
matter16. They are described in doctrine
and in specific booklets17 aimed at both
officers and soldiers. It is no longer true
to claim that the only characteristic
that a junior officer had to demonstrate
was courage; courage was all that
was expected and all that mattered18.
Experience from Northern Ireland, the
Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan and just
about everywhere that officers have
served has required officers, holding
the Queen’s Commission, to take moral
responsibility for their own and their
subordinates’ behaviour. If the moral
education of those whom are recruited
into the officer corps is becoming
increasingly dilute then the Army either
refines its recruitment or provides
the necessary remedial education.
In the future, and as part of a mixed
force19, this ethos is going to be even
more difficult to sustain. The spirit
which inspires soldiers to fight derives
from and depends on high degrees of
commitment, self-sacrifice and mutual
trust, as well as the maintenance of
morale20. Guaranteeing fighting spirit in
an increasingly civilianised organisation
will be a challenge for Defence and for
the future officer corps.
However, and despite some high profile
exceptions, the officers’ corps moral
compass is not broken, but perhaps it
is becoming increasingly blurred with
greater degrees of tolerance. If true,
this might be a worrying trend, but
perhaps it rather reflects contemporary
operations where officers are routinely
faced with a much broader spectrum of
moral dilemmas than was previously the
case. Successfully facing these dilemmas
requires moral qualities to be developed
from when individuals first join the Army
and developed throughout an individual’s
career. The older more worldly wise officer
may be better placed to face future
moral dilemmas. This could result in the
average age of the office corps increasing
as recruits are enlisted after they have
accrued a little more experience e.g. a
post graduate that has also taken a year
Insight or future possibilities:
z The British Army Culture without
the Regimental system.
z An increasingly diverse mix of
officers not necessarily sharing
the same values.
z Withering of fighting spirit
in a whole force approach to
delivering human capability.
The officer corps, if it is to survive,
must regenerate itself. The ‘offer’ that is
designed to recruit must be competitive.
It is important that sufficient potential
officers of the right quality want to
join the Army. But the Army must be
clear about what ‘the right quality’ is
and define it. The qualities the Army
demands of future officers are described21
in terms of physical, conceptual and
moral. Officers with the right qualities
will provide the strategic edge on
future battlefields. A crucial part in the
intangible recruiting equation is the
relationship that the Army has with the
civilian population. Much of the Army’s
The British Army Review Number 151
reputation comes from the Regimental
system and its engagement with wider
stakeholders22. However, the Army must
guard against complacency. A healthy
public perception of the Army does not
necessarily translate into a throng of
We continue to place considerable
demands on officers, often with reduced
resources, and we expect them to
provide solutions; we need to recruit and
retain the best23. Officers are attracted
to the Army as it is seen as satisfying,
challenging and entertaining, but
they become frustrated by the lack of
resources24. Arguably this position has
not changed, but what has occurred
is the extent to which the public has
become aware of the Army’s resource
shortfalls, exposed only too often by
operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A
public relations ‘drumbeat’ that regularly
reminds the public of a lack of resources,
including under-manning, does not
present the Army as an attractive
The Army has benefited from being able
to attract some of the best from each
generation. This is very fortunate, and
has been taken for granted25. Recruiting
potential officers of the highest quality
will become increasingly difficult and the
numbers of brightest and most capable
people attracted to the Army will reduce.
The Army’s high public standing could be
transient and certainly not guaranteed.
Beyond current operations, specifically
Afghanistan, the Army needs to ensure
that buoyant public opinion does not
decline through constant cries of military
overstretch. During the inter-war period
the Army remained stationed across the
globe – imperial policing – but those in
UK tended to have more time to pursue
other pastimes such as sailing, hunting
and other social activities26; being in
the officer corps was fun. Perhaps the
Army needs to re-brand its unique selling
point as exciting, challenging and fun
so that it genuinely fills the gaps that
other employers are unable to reach.
Importantly, the Army must then deliver.
The officer corps must provide young
officers with the mental and physical
challenges they crave. This appetite has
been satisfied by recent operations, but
will have to be delivered differently in a
post conflict era.
Insight or future possibilities:
z A different model eg recruit all
officers from the ranks.
z Comparison with other nations.
The people characteristics that the
officer corps continues to target have
not changed in the last 50 years. The
officer corps seeks volunteers that
New Yachts at the British Keil Yacht Club. SSgt Ian Houlding RLC
have the potential to become effective
leaders. They have common personality
characteristics, are physically fit,
and have been well educated. These
characteristics are captured in doctrine
and other publications, including
Serve to Lead. It is difficult to imagine
how these characteristics and basic
requirements will change in the future.
One conclusion could be that the officer
corps of the future will continue to be
filled by people like today’s officers.
However, the current officer corps is
filled by volunteers and a different way
of generating the force in the future,
enabled through legislation, could lead
to enforced mobilisation for some parts
of the organisation. The principle of an
all volunteer force must be maintained;
else professionalism, morale and
operational capability could be reduced.
Each generation exhibits characterises
that are shaped by social development,
events, leaders and the trends of the
time. So, although there is an enduring
requirement for people that share the
Army’s values, the pool from which
future officers are recruited have
different characteristics. The current
generation (born between 1990-2010)
Generation Z, is characterised27 as
being highly connected. They have
had life long access to media and
communications and have been dubbed
as digital natives. They can be impatient
and instant minded and reportedly
lack ambition. Psychologists have
suggested that there is an accrued
attention deficient disorder caused by
the way that their brains have developed
as they become trained to receiving
short bursts of information rather than
prolonged absorption, through reading
books for example. Generation Z is also
more consumer focussed, especially on
Beyond Generation Z is Generation
Alpha or Gen A (born 2011 onwards)28.
In approximately 20 years it will
be Generation Alpha that will be
recruited into the officer corps as the
next generation of lieutenants. It is
predicted29 that Gen A will be the most
formally educated generation. It will
commence school earlier and study for
Spring 2011
reading and lectures cannot adequately
replace. A return to studying military
history and doctrine, supported by
practical exercises32, is required. Unique
operational experience provides a deep
appreciation of specific circumstances
and theatres but isn’t a very satisfactory
substitute for broad military education
and understanding. Beyond Afghanistan
more time needs to be made available
for the study of doctrine so that the
understanding of doctrine, coupled
with operational experience develops
intuition and rapid decision making. This
agile thinker will be widely read and the
campaign winner of the future.
Rommel conversing with his staff near El Agheila, January 12, 1942 (Bundesarchiv)
longer. Gen A is expected to be even
more materialistic and technology
focused. The Army does not need officers
that all think alike. It continues to need
people who challenge, think creatively
and solve problems. It appears that
people with these characteristics are not
going to be so plentiful in the future or
at least they are not going to be as easy
to identify.
Insight or future possibilities:
z Greater diversity increases the
range of characteristics so is
z The Army has to broaden its
market to ‘capture’ enough
people with the desired
z Private security firms and
contractors in the force mix.
z Combined forces with other
nations (European/US
z Alliances – The US Army is very
diverse – lessons in diversity
Evolving Strands
Doctrine provides the handrail for
military thinking. It need not be
dogmatic and does not need to be
slavishly adhered to. The lowest form
of doctrine, Tactics, Techniques and
Procedures (TTPs) is different. TTPs
evolve rapidly in the face of emerging
threats and therefore need to be obeyed
to save lives and defeat the threat.
TTPs need to be learned by rote, higher
doctrine does not. It is possible that the
constant operational focus on Iraq and
Afghanistan and an increasingly more
mission focussed approach to training
has resulted in a decline in the officer
corps’ understanding of doctrine. Instead
it has become quite expert in theatre
specific TTPs.
This point is illustrated by critics of
UK COIN doctrine30. Army Field Manual
Volume 1 Part 10 Countering Insurgency
dated 2010 replaced the earlier version,
dated 2002. However, it was this earlier
version that the US used to inform
their Field Manual 3-24. A doctrine
reader would have easily spotted the
similarities between the principles
in the British 2002 COIN manual and
those proposed by the new US doctrine.
Consequently, reading the British
principles should have guided an officer’s
thinking. Unfortunately, it would seem
that all too many British officers lived up
to Erwin Rommel’s alleged assertion31 and
have failed to read their own doctrine.
Doctrine should not just be read and
taught – it can be quite dull – it needs
to be practised and brought to life
as it has a practical dimension that
Insight or future possibilities:
z Ideas how doctrine can be made
more readable, interactive,
z Evolution of doctrine over the
next 10 years.
z Doctrine ‘Apps’ and the
associated declassification for
wider dissemination.
z An encouraged and enabled
doctrine forum.
Operational experience is evolutionary
in the sense that every decade, or so,
the British Army has become involved in
a different theatre and the experiences
that it learned from the previous one are
carried into the next. These experiences
An observation post manned by the RAF
Regiment near Sepulot, Borneo during
The British Army Review Number 151
are then adapted to suit the new
In the past 50 years the British officer
corps has benefited from almost constant
conflict ranging from Aden, Radfan,
Dhofar, Borneo, Northern Ireland,
Falkland Islands, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq
and Afghanistan. History suggests
that this will continue, but throughout
the evolution of this operational
experience the one constant has been
Britain’s strategic culture. The way in
which Britain views herself and her
position in the world has influenced
political decisions to use force. The
2010 Strategic Defence and Security
Review may provide the first signs that
Britain’s appetite for global intervention
is becoming sated33 as greater emphasis
passes to soft power.
Ultimately, this could lead to a position
where an aging officer corps calls on
operational experience from Iraq and
Afghanistan that shapes its thinking
and training with that bias. With fewer
opportunities to ‘refresh’ the operational
experience greater emphasis will be
placed on training exercises and an
officer’s performance used as a metric
for further advancement. This is not
ideal, but during an operational pause
mechanisms to determine professional
competence need to be retained.
The potential decline in the Army’s
unique selling point – operations –
needs to be compensated for in other
ways and military experience will have to
be gained through realistic training and
other novel ideas that maintain military
competence and interest in the Army as
a profession.
Insight or future possibilities:
z How to maintain military
experience - novel ideas –
politically acceptable ideas.
z Buying in experience – advisors/
Organisations and Culture
Organisations are evolutionary and
change as a result of political decisions
and operational need. The organisation
of the British Army’s Regimental system
has a significant bearing on the British
officer corps. A Regiment’s tradition’s
values, ethos and culture are reflected
in its officers and they take pride in and
gain companionship from it. There will
always be a place for these traditions
regardless of how small the British Army
becomes, but placing a value on them is
very difficult as pride and companionship
are intangible emotions. Their value is
intuitive; this is lost on some. Officers
are inculcated in the traditions and learn
and lead by example. These socially
transmitted patterns of behaviour form
the officer corps’ culture. This culture is
likely to evolve, but the rate of change
will probably lag behind civilian society.
But the Regimental system must avoid
tribalism and bad behaviours as this too
erodes trust. The professional culture
should be one of agility, discretion,
participation, innovation, risk-taking and
long-term commitment to professional
As a proportion of the Army the officer
corps has grown in size35. This trend
may continue and depending on the
scale and level at which Britain wants
to engage internationally will, in part,
drive the officer corps structure. To have
influence with foreign Armies, allies or
those with whom other military links are
being fostered, requires a certain rank
structure. This need for engagement
with foreign armies, as a contribution
to soft power, may influence the size
of the British officer corps whilst the
political appetite to use hard power
may drive down the overall size of the
Army. Only a professional officer corps
will have international credibility, and if
that is not underwritten by operational
experience (and fewer nations will have
operationally experienced officers) then
having an internationally renowned
officer education and development
system will be key to maintaining
global credibility and offers a potential
strategic advantage36.
Insight or future possibilities:
z A much smaller officer corps or
a relatively much larger officer
z An officer corps beyond the
Regimental System – strength
and weaknesses.
Training and Resources
Not only does training evolve through
changes to doctrine and TTPs, it also
changes due to the resources available.
As (the then) Lt Col Parker stated37,
junior officers become frustrated by
the lack of resources to organise their
own training. Whilst the Army was
committed to both Iraq and Afghanistan
training became increasingly focussed
on Mission Specific Training (MST), but
unfortunately there was a lack of theatre
specific equipment. As a result many
training events had to make do with
notional equipment leading to negative
The necessary emphasis on MST has
resulted in officers that are trained to
a very high level in a specific set of
military skills. As soon as practical the
Army should start to train its officers,
both theoretically and practically,
in broader military skills. The theory
element of officership includes staff
training. It has become all too common
for junior staff officers to learn on the
job. This is inefficient and does not get
the best from each officer. A return to
residential staff training, earlier in a
career, would improve the contribution
that junior officers make, as they would
be productive sooner, and also enhance
the professionalism of the officer corps.
But training is not just about tactics and
military administration. Fun elements
must also be considered. Time and
resources have to be allocated to both
sport and Adventure Training (AT). This
area is the space that most civilian
employers are unable to compete in; the
Army must exploit it.
In the future and building on RMAS,
officers should start formal military
training earlier and it should be
undertaken outside Regimental Duty.
Spring 2011
This will enable more time for officers
to plan, organise and participate in the
fun elements and enable them to focus
on their soldiers rather than worry about
their own career hurdles. As the future
is unpredictable38 the future officer
corps needs to be able harvest the seed
corn. An extended germination period
increases the risk of not being prepared
for whatever the future holds, and
foreseeing the future is an oxymoron.
Insight or future possibilities:
z The son of ROCC – around the
ROCC again.
z Time at RD and officer Terms of
Service in Career Stage 1 and 2.
z Balance of investment between
academic study and having the
latest equipment.
Transient Strands
Political Policy
The Secretary of Sate for War in 1937
was Leslie Hore-Belisha. He was a
member of the National Liberal Party,
which was a minority party in coalition
with the Conservatives. Hore-Belisha
pursued a policy that was changing
the Army’s role. The Army would focus
on home and imperial defence and any
preparation to fight a significant enemy
would, in the interests of the economy,
practically cease39. At the outbreak of
WW2 British armoured formations were
weak and there had been a virtual ban
on war preparations between 1937-39
by the financial stringency imposed by
the Treasury. In 1932, the Government
strategy was predicting that Britain
would not face a serious threat for
at least 10 years40 despite clear geopolitical signals to the contrary.
The point is that these transient
strands are predictable and having been
predicted it is incumbent upon the
officer corps to plan for them: planning
is essential work for every General
Political appetite for major interventions
may be waning and without a specific
enemy or operational deployment
the Army may find itself increasingly
UK based and deployed on relatively
benign tours of duty. Continued and
gradual resource reductions will damage
morale and a bold correction, although
politically unattractive, could have a
longer-term benefit. A bold adjustment
to make the Army politically affordable
that results in officers and soldiers
competitively resourced is probably
better than un-graceful degradation. So,
it is for the officer corps to predict the
direction of the political wind and plan
Current political fiscal pressure could
continue to the end of Epoch 2, which
emphasises the Army’s need to be able
to influence political debate. A reduction
in the size of the Army compounded with
a lack of specific threat and a retreat
from an ethical Foreign Policy could
lead to the Army becoming marginalised
in this political space. The predictions
that the Army uses to shape policy must
be well researched, must be credible,
have academic rigour, and must be
successfully argued to demonstrate the
Army’s utility.
Insight or future possibilities:
z Does history repeat itself?
z When is an Army no longer an
Fashion and Lifestyle
Each generation has its own set of
characteristics, for example the ‘Yuppies’
of the 1980s were viewed as being
materialistic and ‘out for themselves’42
and yet this label is now being attached
to Gen A, too. People’s expectations
and the way they want or expect to live
their lives is of a transitory nature and
lifestyle choices tend to follow the socio
economic realities of the day rather than
longer-term social engineering.
That said the expectations of ‘today’s’
generation cannot be ignored, else
recruiting evaporates. The challenge
will always be to recognise what the
fashionable ideas are and embrace
them as much as possible, without
distorting the enduring values and
standards beyond recognition. So whilst
the language that is used to describe
military life may change it should not
result in fundamental shifts as fashion
is not lasting and often re-invents itself.
In reflecting the nation and the people
it recruits, the future officer corps has to
be fashion conscious but not a dedicated
Insight or future possibilities:
z Research to identify fashion and
z Predictive human analysis.
Information and Technology
A case can be made that the information
and technology strands are evolutionary,
but due to the speed at which they
change, their impact is transitory. Gen
A are digital natives and they will be
connected to and in communication
with everybody. As Defence moves
into the cyber space the skills from
Gen A have to be exploited. The future
officer corps will be comfortable in
cyber space and shaping and exploiting
operations are most likely to be planned
and executed in this domain. In a war
amongst the people, where the people
are the battlefield43, cyber warfare will
play an important part in shaping and
influencing conflicts, but cyber on its
own is unlikely to be anything other
than a force multiplier. It will not be
decisive in its own right.
A weakness could be the over reliance on
information and technology. In the fast
moving multi media domain the veracity
of information may be difficult to
confirm and the reliance on technology
may be total and thus reversionary
modes and practices forgotten. The need
to practice reversionary techniques has
to be maintained. Also the reduced cost
of technology will make it much more
accessible. The officer corps will become
frustrated by a military procurement
system that delivers equipment that
uses 10 year old technology. This
demand will drive commercial off the
shelf solutions– less robust but cheaper,
easier to replace and up to date. The
digital natives will understand the
The British Army Review Number 151
importance of information management,
but information exploitation will still be
a skill that has to be learned. There is
also a danger that unless information is
presented as an ‘app’ it will not capture
the user’s imagination and not fully
Military transformation may be driven
by both policy and technological
achievements, but affordability will also
be a key driver44. In Colin Gray’s book45
he claims that it is people that kill
people not weapons. [He] goes on to
state that as long as equipment is good
enough, it does not have to be the best,
wars can be won. The difference between
technologies can, among other things,
be compensated for through leadership,
morale, and training and poor equipment
is rarely an excuse for poor military
performance. So a balance between
investment in training and education
against new equipment has to be made,
but training and education must always
take priority and we should spare no
expense in furnishing our soldiers with
the best officers to lead them46.
Insight or future possibilities:
z Contemporary conflict and the
value of the technological edge
z Ethics in the cyber domain
z Digital natives will be expert
at IM but IX will require
development and must be app
z To compete in the information
space the Army officers must
have the latest technology. A
throw away COTS culture may
be cheaper and quicker than
hardening everything.
Conflict is enduring, but operations are
transitory and the Army is often accused
of preparing to fight the last battle. The
study of previous operations is likely to
identify trends and factors that could
be enduring. These enduring aspects
have to be brought into doctrine and
training. For example the chief lesson
that came out of the 1919-20 campaign
in Waziristan was that the force with
the most modern equipment can not
command success unless its men are
well trained and its officers lead them
in accordance with the time-honoured
principles of war47. As Field Marshal Slim
declared the cheapest way to prepare
for future war is to study previous
Leading Soldiers from 3 PARA on a normal routine
patrol in the area of the Showal bazaar today (26
Mar 11) in Afghanistan (Cpl Steve Follows RAF).
2nd/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, who were stationed
in the North-West Frontier following the 1919–20
campaign (Wikimedia)
Perhaps the most important effect that
experience in Afghanistan and Iraq will
have is the importance of tactical victory
and how it was achieved. In Book Four,
Clausewitz describes49 the battle and
the effect of victory: ‘He who has not
been present at the loss of a battle will
have difficulty in forming for himself a
living or quite true idea of it…’. Victory
has an effect on the Army, the Nation
and on the course of the campaign. The
future senior elements of the future
officer corps, hardened by experience in
Iraq and Afghanistan, will understand
the need to win and appreciate what
underpins future victories: fighting spirit.
This experience will assist in shaping the
development of future officers.
Insight or future possibilities:
z Horizon scanning – how can
the Army do it best, how can it
z Comparison with post WW1 and
WW2 experiences on the officer
corps – lessons from history.
Developing the officer corps is perhaps
where most investment should be
focussed, particularly in the delivery
of training and education. On the
assumption that there will be a period
without an operation to refresh
operational experience the professional
officer corps will require a structured
programme of training and education
at both the individual and collective
level. As organisations evolve and
become increasingly civilianised the
emphasis on professional military
training will become even more
important and potentially the only way
to demonstrate military prowess. These
military activities, designed to develop
military professionalism must also be
complemented by fun activities so that
the draw to the military profession
remains strong.
Young officers will always be drawn by
the prospect of adrenaline fuelled thrills
and this is the Army’s unique selling
point that must be exploited. The future
officer should be able to look forward
to sport, adventure training, realistic
and challenging training, professional
development and early responsibility.
This does not sound new – it isn’t, but
recent history has meant that there has
been an emphasis on realistic training
and operational success – rightly so.
Greater balance will be possible in
the future and developing the strands
that achieve that balance so that it is
delivered will be key.
Spring 2011
The officer corps has to be able to plan
competently. History holds a lot of
lessons and both fashions and politicians
and politics change on regular basis. The
officer corps needs to be able to identify
those strands that will change for good,
such as technology, and those that
could be cyclical or even lack any real
substance. So the officer corps will bend
under political and societal pressure and
the direction may change from time to
time. An agile and flexible officer corps
will be able to absorb these transitory
pressures and will be resilient. With
the benefit of experience in Iraq and
Afghanistan and having worked through
a period of significant fiscal pressure
the future officer corps will be rightly
sceptical, will be questioning, will argue
its case but overall it will know what
fighting spirit is and how important it is.
The officer corps will continue to be the
catalyst for fighting spirit, without which
there is no future for a professional
volunteer force.
Officership is comprised of 3 essential
components: command, example and
responsibility. These 3 components rest on the
ethos of the Army. The Queen’s Commission A
Junior Officer’s Guide, RMAS 2003 p2.
2009 p151.
Canadian Defence Academy Duty with Honour
dated 2003.
30. The Britsh Army Review No 149 Summer 2010
Herwig, H. Joint Force Quarterly, Spring 1998
Mileham, P. 50 Years of British Army Officership
1960 – 2010 Part 2: Prospective, Defence and
Secutity Analysis Vol 20 No 2 Jun 04 p186.
31. ‘The British write some of the best doctrine in
the world; it is fortunate that their officers do
not read it.’ Attributed to Colonel (later Field
Marshal) Rommel, in response to him reading J
F C Fuller’s 1933 publication on Combined Arms
Integrated Warfare.
10. Kohn, R. H. An Officer Corps for the next Century,
Joint Force Quarterly Spring 1198 p78.
11. Army Code 71632, ADP Operations, Nov 10,
Para 0233
12. Selfless commitment, courage, discipline,
integrity, loyalty and respect for others.
13. Directorate of Army Personnel Strategy:
Cranfield University Kirke Study 29 Dec 10.
14. Heinecken, L. Op Cit p481
15. Gray, C.S. Moral Advantage, Strategic Advantage.
The Journal of Strategic Studies Vol 33, No 3
June 2010 p343.
16. Wilson, J.D. What are Officers For? British Army
Review No 127, 2001 p47.
32. These could be TEWTS, Staff Rides, Battlefield
Tours, MAPEX, simulation etc
33. HM Government, Securing Britain in an Age of
Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and security
Review, October 2010, p3.
34. LMD/04/01/02, Institutional Fatigue and
Resilience, dated 5 Nov 10.
35. Wilson J.D. Op Cit
36. MOD, Future Character of Conflict, p9.
37. Parker, N. Op Cit
38. Gray, C. Another Bloody Century Future Warfare
2005 p380.
17. Army Code 63813 Commanders’ Edition, Values
and Standards of the British Army, March 2000.
39. French, D & Holden Reid. The British General
Staff – Reform and Innovation 1890 – 1939
dated 2002
18. Wilson, J.D. Op Cit
40. Clayton, Anthony Op Cit p147.
19. The Whole Force Concept envisages a mix
of regular/TA/reservists/civil servants and
41. Gporlitz, W Op Cit pIX.
20. The Queen’s Commission Op Cit p3.
43. Smith, R. The Utility of Force The Art of War in
the Modern World Penguin Books 2006 p 3.
21. Directorate of Army Personnel Strategy, People
As Our Strategic Edge, Feb 11, p4.
22. Mileham, P. Op Cit p196.
42. Shaw, D.C.N No Commitment, British Army
Review, 1991
44. Gray, C. S. Another Bloody Century Future
Warfare p120.
23. Parker, N. The Frontline: Operational
Effectiveness and Resource Constraints, The RUSI
Journal Oct 1994 p12-18.
Meaning to generate again and again.
24. Ibid p 17
Police, Fire, Ambulance services, for example.
25. Mileham, P. Op Cit p196
Mileham, P. Fifty Years of British Army
Officership 1960-2010 Part II: Prospective,
Defence and Security Analysis Vol 20, No 2 June
2004 p185.
26. Clayton, Anthony. The British Officer – Leading
the Army from 1660 to the present. 2006. p154.
47. The General Staff Army Headquarters India
1923, Operations In Waziristan 1919-20,
Imperial War Museum Naval & Militray Press Ltd.
Heinecken, L. Discontent in the Ranks, Armed
Forces & Society Vol 35 No3 April 2009 p481.
Rhodes, Bill. An Introduction to Military Ethics
27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Z
28. ibid
46. Kohn, R.H. An Officer Corps for the next Century
Joint Force Quarterly Spring 1998 p77.
48. Field Marshal Viscount Slim, Defeat Into Victory
Pan Books 1956.
49. Clausewitz, C On War, Wordsworth Classics of
World Literature 1997.
29. http://www.news.com.au/features/babies-bornfrom-2010-to-form-generation-alpha/story-
In the mountainous outskirts of the
Afghan capital, on a vast exercise area
littered with rusting Soviet-era tanks
and derelict buildings, British infantry
commander Lieutenant Colonel Nick
Ilic explains why training the Afghan
National Army is crucial to British
success in Afghanistan. (Lt Sally
Armstrong RN)