2relatively simple in that the adversaries were well defined and this provided arelatively sharp focus. However, future conflict will take many forms and thepicture will be increasingly blurred. The second task of the strategist is toachieve an asymmetric edge, so that at every level we can maintain a capacityto shape events and seize the initiative, or respond to the unexpected. In thepast, the Western way of warfare put a high premium on technology to deliverthe edge
From 2020 this can no longer be assumed; indeed, some of thetechnology on which we base our way of warfare to project and employ poweris already vulnerable. The third task of the successful strategist is to allocateresources in order to achieve decisive effect, and when resources are short, todecide where and how to take and mitigate risk. This paper will argue that theUK needs greater capacity to understand emerging conflict, and then greaterinstitutional agility to anticipate, learn and adapt under diverse mountingpressures. Professor Sir Michael Howard warns:‘
No matter how clearly one thinks, it is impossible to anticipate precisely the character of future conflict. The key is to not be so far off the mark that it becomes impossible to adjust once that character is revealed
’.3.Scope.This paper briefly sets out the global and national strategiccontext for Defence. It then analyses trends in the character of conflict (withsnapshots at the 5 and 20 year points) drawing deductions. It concludes byoutlining the broad implications for Defence.4.Assumptions.However, this paper is based on 6 broad assumptionsderived from current policy:
The UK has significant global interests and will therefore wish toremain a leading actor on the international stage as a permanentmember of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), a nuclearpower, a key member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),the European Union (EU) and other international institutions,irrespective of the potential for its power base to decline.
Defence will be the Nation’s ultimate insurance policy. We cannotrule out the re-emergence of a major state-led threat, but in theforeseeable future, there is no state with the intent and capability tothreaten the UK mainland; threats are more likely to be manifested inless traditional, non-military domains. However, the sovereignty ofsome of our Overseas Territories will still be subject to territorial