Whole Force By Design: Optimising Defence to Meet Future Challenges

Whole Force sounds like an abstract term drawn from the defence dictionary. In reality, it refers to a simple and age-old idea: how can regular armed forces best be supported by industry, civilians, reserves and contractors? Our new study tries to answer this question.

This ground-breaking report is the product of a collaboration with King’s College London’s Centre for Defence Studies and extensive research and interviews with defence experts, Ministry of Defence officials and military personnel.

Access the full report here


In 2010, the Strategic Defence and Security Review led to cuts of some non-combat military units. The question for policymakers was and remains: how can industry help fill those gaps and ensure that the UK’s armed forces remain at the cutting edge?

In the context of Coronavirus, with increased financial pressures on government and the military playing a central role in the fight against the disease, Whole Force has never been more relevant.

The study identifies what progress has been made, what obstacles remain to deliver the Whole Force model in the UK, and a list of practical recommendations designed to improve the defence community’s ability to work together.

The central conclusion of this expert-led project is clear - decisive changes are required to advance the implementation of Whole Force and any risks in embracing it are significantly outweighed by potential benefits.

This report is required reading for all those with an interest in the future of the UK’s defence capability.

The report and its recommendations was launched by a panel of experts on 13 October 2020, that included Lord Lancaster of Kimbolton TD, Lieutenant-General Sir Andrew Gregory KBE CB DL, Lieutenant-General James Swift OBE, Elisabeth Braw, and Professor John Gearson

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