The Future of Warfighter Conference, November 2017, London

Conference Abstract by RUSI

This conference will examine the future for military personnel, focusing on recruitment, retention, new ways of working and future skills. Whilst much academic attention has been paid to ideas such as the Whole Force Concept and the Defence Enterprise, with the notable exception of the Armed Forces Covenant there appears to have been less interest in the future for military personnel. Within the services themselves, there is a philosophy of promotion as the single recognition and reward, yet this is relatively new and is counter to the historical experiences of the British Armed Forces in peacetime. Notwithstanding this there are regular conversations within the Ministry of Defence about recruitment, retention, new ways of working and future skills. This RUSI conference will seek to open the conversation around these themes and to identify areas where further research is needed, and what models might be useful comparisons.

Opening Keynote

 

Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans 

 

Summary of Key Points:

Minister`s speech began with the importance of cybersecurity knowledge and skills considering the increasing level of cyberterrorism and changing battlefield atmosphere in the contemporary world.  The major themes of his speech were observed as the concepts and examples of deterrence, space and domination.  He also raised a question about the replacement of human power with machinery, namely artificial intelligence (AI) in future military technology. He was skeptical about the full replacement and exemplified his statement with the example of the Afghanistan War and the importance of local people`s culture in the war zone. He said that “empathy, it is not totally for machines”. Furthermore, while the minister was elaborating the relationship between armed forces and society (public support), he mentioned the operations of the British Army mostly as a soft power in 30 different locations all around the world.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

Opening up all Armed Forces roles to women was the main consideration in this category. He insisted on the concept of diversity and the necessity of different perspectives, in other words, female perspectives in the army. He referred their encouragement efforts towards women to today`s military recruitments.  Also, he talked about 100 years of women in the British Army.

Session One: Understanding the Requirement

 

General Sir Richard Barrons, Senior Associate Fellow, RUSI

Summary of Key Points:

The main subject areas which dominated the General Barrons` speech were the future warfighters, the UK as a soft power, future military capability, and AI. He was particularly interested in cyber technology and its ability to change the war-space of the future. He reported that AI is “a process not an event”. So, the armies should be patient about the combination of AI and human operations. Also, he focused on the importance of civil society in this process as a bridge between technology and industry.

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

His speech to audiences was issue specific but not pointedly related to women`s inclusion in future military personnel.

 

Professor David Betz, Professor of War in the Modern World, King’s College London

Summary of Key Points:

The professor had the critical lens to read the concept of warfighters. He would like to refer to them as soldiers rather than an Americanized term warfighters. He gave paramount importance to AI in the future military and publicised his belief to machinery intelligence as the key actors and leaders of the near future. The professor Betz also spoke about British legacy as an active risk-taker and encouraged people working in the field to engage more with AI as a new cyber power.

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

Professor Betz`s speech covered most aspects of next-generation machinery rather than debates concerning the demand for gender diversity in future military recruitment.

Gallipoli Memorial Lecture

 

Admiral Sir Philip Jones, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff

Summary of Key Points:

The Admiral addressed the Gallipoli Campaign as an event from which the British Army should take lessons. Furthermore, he explained the capability and performance of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines based on his active 39 years` experience.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

The Admiral Jones mentioned contributions of women to existing military services as well as to encourage women to gain more experience in the British Armed Forces.

 

Session Two: Recruiting the Future Warfighter

 

Elisabeth Braw, Non-resident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council and Senior Consultant, Control Risks

Summary of Key Points:

Elisabeth Braw preferred to start her speech with two short YouTube videos featuring two young men from Norway and Finland. The men in the videos have one thing in common which is their positive attitudes towards the completion of their conscription. In this direction, Elisabeth Braw presented statistical data to conference attendees in order to prove the positive relationship between individuals` happiness level and conscription in the military. Furthermore, she also discussed the progressive contributions of conscription to the people`s personal development, future career and leadership skills.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

First, she always employed a gender neutral terminology. She stated that Norway serves as a model for more gender-balanced and neutral armed forces. More information can be found below.

 

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/norway/2017-01 19/norways-radical-military-experiment

In addition to these, she answered the question regarding her opinion on gender balance to demonstrate the recent survey results in the framework of the conscription. According to data, both sexes are more satisfied and productive, when working together.  She supported the argument of a balanced gender perspective for the armed forces.

 

Johanna Hooper, PA Consulting

Summary of Key Points:

Johanna Hooper predominantly talked about the future workforce and workplace in the context of the military recruitments. Three key areas -technology, attitude and demography- are the subject of her speech and she explained and exemplified each aforementioned terms.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

In her full speech, she always gave the relevant examples for both sexes; men and women. Also, she insisted that today`s workforce needs more diversified characteristics in order to reach its full potential. Her understanding with reference to diversity is the inclusion of more women to the armed forces. She continued about the importance of overcoming traditional gender biases toward women and epitomised her statement with the example of opening new positions in the EU towards women as a positive development.

 

Group Captain Wendy Rothery, Recruiting and Selection, Royal Air Force

Summary of Key Points:

Wendy Rothery mainly concentrated upon the recruitment process in the Royal Air Force (RAF). She explained how to recruit and choose their personnel including innovative attraction measures, employment policies, alternative recruitment methods and challenges of recruitment.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women:

Her speech is a detailed account of why more women would work better in the RAF. She mentioned that the RAF becomes the first branch of the British military to open every role to women by 1st of September 2017. The RAF aims to attract more women to join for military roles to have a more diverse force, in other words, more operationally effective force. Moreover, she responded to the question of a diversity objective regarding a more gender-balanced army as follows: in 2013, women`s participation to RAF was very low but today RAF has already achieved its 2020 target, reaching up to 20% of women in their forces. Also, she addressed the importance of education to break gender barriers.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcRl-J76bvo

 

She showed the above video to conference participants in order to highlight the crucial importance of women in the military.

 

Session Three: Retaining the Warfighter

 

Air Commodore Brian Edwards, Head, Australian Defence Staff, Australian High Commission

Summary of Key Points:

The cultural tradition of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) was carefully laid out by him during his speech. Air Commodore Edwards summarized the core values of ADF as follows; flexibility, diversity, culture and adaptability. He paid particular attention to the flexibility principle which he and his wife personally took advantage of, working in the UK.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

Brian Edwards both started and ended up his speech with the concepts of diversity and women`s role in the military. According to his understanding, diversity is more than the term of gender and women`s inclusion, it is more related to the ability of understanding each other rather than measurement and statistics. 

 

Dr Gabriela Thompson, Research Fellow, RUSI

Summary of Key Points:

Dr Gabriella Thomson summarized the details of her ongoing qualitative research project on the system for dependants in the British military. She clarified different aspects of lives of dependants mainly under 4 main categories; family life, deployment, healthcare and participation as citizens. Her research revealed the issue of marginalised and disconnected military families in the British Armed Forces.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

Since her research scope is highly specific, she has not said anything related to demands for more women in the military and security sector.

 

Group Captain Clive Montellier, Assistant Head, Terms of Service & Career Management Policy, Ministry of Defence

Summary of Key Points:

Clive Montellier` speech addressed three main topics; current recruitment trends in the armed forces, lateral entry and outflows. Knowledge, skill and experience were identified as most substantial criteria for the MoD.  He compared the previous generation to the contemporary youth in the context of military recruitment.

 

Remarks on Gender Diversity and Women: 

Group Captain Montellier did not address how to have more gender-balanced armed forces. His speech could be considered as a general query towards the recruitment process of the future armed forces.