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Concepts and Doctrine Long Read

The Soft Power Army of the 2020’s: An Alternative Perspective

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A recent piece posted in the Wavell Room titled ‘The Soft Power Army of the 2020’s’ ponders the relevance of ‘hard’ military power in our new security era. The coming decades will be characterised not simply by the familiar threats of state-on-state violence or terrorism, but biological devastation, malign influence campaigns and cyber threats. What does this mean, it asks, for the British Army going forward?

The Soft Power Army proposed three distinct but interrelated arguments to answer this question. Firstly, that the concept of traditional war, i.e. violent interstate conflict resulting in a clearly defined victor and vanquished, is outdated and irrelevant. Using the army only for controlled violence in the land/physical domains going forward is, to quote, ‘a fail’.1  Secondly that Britain will likely never have the resources, or national and political will, to contemplate a re-run of the failed interventions (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan) of the past. And thirdly that the Army should, as a consequence of these two aforementioned factors, re-orientate itself more broadly toward the exercise of soft-power, political warfare and influence operations. These capabilities in turn need to be encouraged by way of a number of targeted initiatives; strategic investment in STEM training; a deeper understanding of politics and diplomacy; the development of divergent and critical thinking skills; and efforts to increase the intellectual diversity found within Land HQ’s. It is argued that this combination, namely an acknowledgement of the changing threat environment and the related development of alternative skills and capabilities on the part of Land forces, will provide the British Army with the necessary aptitudes to remain relevant in the rapidly evolving security environment of the 2020’s.2

The author of The Soft Power Army certainly isn’t wrong in terms of proposing that the British Army finds itself at a crossroad, and that its present capabilities and strengths may not be innately suited to the range of challenges going forward. The sight of highly trained soldiers or commandos abandoning their expensive weapons systems to act as delivery drivers for the new ‘frontline’, i.e. the NHS, reinforces that point. But the article demands a slightly more forensic examination of its implications and the extent to which these are either feasible or advisable. The original article was designed to be a short think-piece, and as such was never intended to provide a thorough examination of these matters in depth. This response merely sets out to provide some deeper, and sometimes alternative, considerations.

The New Security Environment: Combat Still Matters

Warriors on the move – weapons of the past? (Defence Imagery, 2020)

The first main argument made by The Soft Power Army is that war in the form of ‘traditional’ interstate conflicts is an outdated and irrelevant concept. This a pertinent point in some respects. The evidence certainly illustrates the trend post WW2 of a decline in the instances of interstate war, with civil-war now being the predominant form of conflict.3

However, there are a number of responses to be made to any such suggestion. The first is an obvious one but needs pointing out; given the instability of the international system and the rise in great power tensions it would be a significant gamble to rule out any future interstate war. The second obvious problem is that by maintaining that major interstate war is an outmoded notion one automatically challenges the requirement for high-end warfighting capabilities. This is a problem for the ground forces in particular, as the absence of a state enemy equipped with conventional forces does not mean the absence of a significant physical threat. US Marines fighting sectarian militias in the midst of the Battles for Fallujah 2004; British forces fighting the Taliban during the 10 day battle for Musa Qala in Helmand in late 2007; Iraqi Government forces retaking Mosul from the clutches of Islamic State, all would have been hard pressed to dispute the sheer levels of violence required of these high-intensity COIN and Stabilisation missions.4 Hard military capability would seem to remain of significant utility even when the enemy is a lowly insurgent. Secondly, and to bowdlerise Trotsky, you may not be interested in firepower, but firepower is certainly interested in you. As the Russia experts Mark Galeotti and Michael Kofman argue, the Kremlin views conventional military capability as a fundamental ingredient of  Russia’s response to threats or adversaries, even when (as noted below) they are engaged in their favoured form of ‘armed politics’.5 They have a deep respect for firepower, and thus have a deep respect for opponents that wield it. It is a currency that they fully understand. And what is true for the Russians is no doubt true for other potential opponents.6

That said, I would agree that we should be wary of the concept of ‘old fashioned’ war. But I would argue that the reason relates to a deeper and more corrosive problem. Namely that the idealised paradigm of interstate war detrimentally affects our understanding of how war actually ‘works’ most of the time. Reading about Waterloo, WW1, WW2 or the Falklands provides us an image of how wars end and how one judges victory or defeat. But such binary notions fail to represent the true nature of the vast majority of conflicts. Many or even most wars end inconclusively, (thus preserving in place dynamics for future conflict), or by way of messy compromise (in which victory or defeat is entirely subjective), or they may even resist a tendency to end at all (so-called frozen conflicts). We should be careful of holding on to our conception of ‘traditional’ war not because there may be less chance of it happening, but also because our memory of it disguises the often very limited ability of military power to solve complex political problems beyond a certain point.

Does Britain have the will, or the capability, to do as we have done before?

Could we do the Libyan intervention again? (Defence Imagery, 2011)

In addition to its claim that traditional interstate war is becoming increasingly passe, The Soft-Power Army goes on to claim that, due to a lack of money and popular will, there can also be no repeat of the major interventions witnessed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. That is an entirely sensible proposition, particularly in respect to the financial impact of COVID-19. However, it is in tension with the worldview represented in the extant National Security Strategy (NSS), which intimately relates the problem of instability within the international system, i.e. failing states, violent regimes etc, to the UK’s national security.7 It could be argued of course that the future Integrated Defence and Security Review might result in a rejection of such a broad set of assumptions. It is equally legitimate to argue however that the post-COVID world may reinforce them. Such might be the global turmoil at play that a British Government in the not-too distant future has to re-word the amusing pre-WW2 advertising slogan of ‘visit Germany before Germany visits you’ with ‘visit instability before instability visits you’.8

The above points may appear easy to dismiss but it’s worth looking at the US experience at a similar inflection point in history. Post-withdrawal from South Vietnam 1972-1975, and with its economy damaged by a deep recession, the US politico-military establishment resolved to abandon lengthy COIN and nation-building missions. Instead, they focused their energies upon the prospect of a confrontation with Soviet and Eastern bloc forces into Europe.9 The outcome was almost inevitable. There was no confrontation with the Soviets, but there was a near-constant engagement going forward in COIN, stabilisation, and regime-change type missions – Lebanon and Grenada (1983), Panama (1989), Somalia (1993-4), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995), Kosovo (1999), Afghanistan (2001-ongoing), Iraq 1 (2003-2011) and Iraq 2 (2014-2019). This isn’t of course to suggest that Britain is condemned to a similarly endless succession of repeat performances. Yet, if one takes the ‘failed’ interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya as self-evident proof of why policymakers shouldn’t make the same mistake again, you are likely to be disappointed. Britain’s increasing military commitment to Mali in support of a chronically faltering French CT/Stabilisation campaign serves as a sobering reminder of this.10

Soft-Power and the lost art of Political Warfare: A Workable Alternative?

The Great Partnership: Delivering Global Britain - GOV.UK
Soft power as the way forward? (Dubuis, 2020)

For the sake of argument however, let us accept the ‘no interstate war/no interventions’ angle as suggested by The Soft Power Army. Importantly, it now provides the Army with the opportunity for a change in emphasis away from major combat operations and stabilisation, instead toward a greater emphasis upon the exercise of soft power and ‘political warfare’. Both of these suggestions are logical and attractive because they re-direct the Army toward potentially more relevant spheres of operation. The article argues that the ability to influence ‘through attraction rather than coercion’ is essential to the UK’s prosperity, safety and influence.11 Citing a report that places the UK at the apex of the international soft-power league, The Soft Power Army suggests that the Armed forces should, on a corporate level, get behind the UK’s ‘soft power’ juggernaut.12

Indeed, the soft-power theme is espoused by senior figures in Government. In February 2020 in a speech to Chatham House Penny Mordaunt, formerly International Development Secretary and Secretary of State for Defence, proudly articulated an interventionist, strategic worldview dedicated to ‘doing good in the world’, i.e. safeguarding human rights, democracy and civil society. Similarly, CDS has espoused the need for the Armed forces to embrace the concept of confronting strategic rivals not by way of weapons that go ‘bang’, but by way of a values-based approach articulated through the medium of soft power.

But The Soft Power Army also argues that soft-power alone is not enough, and that the time is also now ripe for the British Army to exploit the notion of ‘political warfare’. Interestingly, CDS’s appears fully cognizant of the same opportunity, as mention of this seemingly new mode of conflict in last year’s speech to RUSI makes clear.13 The Soft Power Army therefore advocates that Land forces consider the return of ‘old style’ political officers and a rediscovery of the lost art of what George Kennan described in 1948 as, ‘all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve national objectives.’14

Britain’s soft power is in doubt, as is the Army’s role in applying it

SIS building (26327425611).jpg
Can Defence match this level of sneaky-beaky? (Nevay, 2004)

Concepts such as soft-power or political warfare might provide an alluring avenue for military power, but they are problematic. The application of soft-power seems fairly well understood – at least in theory. As well as active diplomacy and the distribution of money -previously through organisations such as DFID, but now under the purview of the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – Britain places heavy emphasis upon cultural attraction as part of its soft power strategy. Organisations as diverse as the British Council, the BBC, and sports teams are all seen  as ways of building ‘influence’. The hundreds of thousands of foreign students attending British universities each year are another major plank of this soft power strategy. This presumably is what has helped put it at the apex of the international ‘soft power chart’.

But closer inspection of that list raises serious questions about its veracity.  Firstly, Britain is no longer top (that honour is taken by France, with the UK second). More interestingly, China is placed 27th on the same list.15 In other words, the country that has demonstrably used various forms of soft power in the form such as the multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road initiative, economic and humanitarian intervention throughout much of Africa, as well as global medical diplomacy during the ongoing pandemic, is judged to have used its soft-power capabilities to a lesser effect not only than Britain, but also Belgium (18th on the list), the Czech Republic (24th) and Greece (25th).16 In light of such rankings it is worth considering how one measures soft power, and whether those metrics are practically useful.17 The recent demise of DFID would suggest some degree of controversy.18

The problem deepens when we are asked to consider evidence of just how well the British Army might be poised to contribute to this broader exercise in non-violent international influence. In a high-profile Chatham House speech, Mordaunt, a former defence secretary, provided no clarity on the role of the military in Britain’s soft-power efforts.19 A RUSI report in June 2020 on the subject of soft-power fails to mention the military at all.20  The obvious counterargument is defence engagement, and indeed one of the examples provided by The Soft Power Army was the use of British military professionals in aiding the transformation of other states’ militaries into responsible and professional organisations.21 This is a worthy mission. Except that the example given was that of defence engagement in Myanmar, and the assisting the Myanmar’s army in transitioning from a military government to an ‘instrument of the state’.22 That same military began a genocidal campaign against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim community in August 2016 – just two years after British assistance.23 Britain has so far proven unable to stop the killings – indicative of the real fragility of ‘influence’ built by such methods.

Political Warfare: A Potentially Poisoned Chalice

Can the Army gain from political warfare? (Defence Imagery, 2020)

Then we come to the flip side of the soft-power offensive; the dark and shadowy world of political warfare. The Soft Power Army suggests that this sphere of sub-threshold conflict provides an interesting avenue for the British Army to exploit. In reality the concept is hugely problematic.  There is no clear role for military power in this theatre. Worse still, engaging in it potentially cuts against the very culture of the British Army as a whole.24

Even if political warfare is potentially the most pressing form of ‘conflict’ currently facing the UK it is not immediately obvious what role the Army should play in such an arena. As The Soft Power Army states, it was the US State Department official George Kennan who provided the most succinct description of political warfare as ‘all the means at a nation’s command, short of war, to achieve national objectives.’25 But it’s also worth examining his ideas in more depth. In the same document he expanded further on the concept of political warfare as;

‘[O]perations (that) are both overt and covert. They range from such overt actions as political alliances, economic measures and “white” propaganda to such covert operations as clandestine support of “friendly” foreign elements, “black” psychological warfare and even encouragement of underground resistance in hostile states’26

The problem lies in the fact that at no point in the 8-page document did Kennan actually specify a role for the military as part of this endeavour. His only acknowledgement of their existence was that that the National Security Council should collaborate ‘closely with the military establishment’.

27 Beyond that we are to guess at the role of military actors in this alternative form of conflict. Even the RAND Corporation’s recent and lengthy report on Political Warfare from 2018 gives the military nothing more than an enhanced role for Special Operations Forces, the bolstering of State Department influence over the direction of national resources, and a call for a more ‘integrated’ approach.28 There is almost nothing said specifically about the role of conventional military power, beyond a nod to old fashioned deterrence. Historical precedent provides food for thought. In his excellent recent work ‘Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy’, Rory Cormac casts a detailed eye over British attempts, post-1945, to wage political warfare against a number of various foes. His research was revealing on two counts. Firstly, the senior civil servants and SIS officers who at that point owned the process did all they could to prevent the military chiefs from gaining access to their world, lest the latter upset the delicate manoeuvrings at play with their desire for far more aggressive and proactive measures. When the Service chiefs finally got their foot in the door they did not disappoint in this respect, much to the dismay of their civilian partners.29 But even then, little damage was done. As Cormac’s history makes clear, for much of this period the armed forces, aside from its covert SF component, had little in terms of an active role to play in Britain’s 6-decade campaign of political warfare

However, even were a clear role to be defined, the desirability of getting involved in this form of activity is debatable. An unexpected example of this –are the recent COIN campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both military interventions created an arena where military action became part of a broader battle for ideas, influence and narratives. In other words, COIN became a form of war where military actors were suddenly forced to consciously play politics. The British Army was confronted by diverse actors and audiences; each important in their own way but each also motivated by competing perceptions, perspectives and allegiances, and all with varying ideas of what ‘success’ or ‘victory’ meant to them. Military commanders trained mostly in manoeuvre warfare, or whose experience lay mostly in Peace Support Operations (PSO) were suddenly required to identify specific targets from among this kaleidoscope; to appeal to certain powerful elements for their support; to build alliances; to separate opponents from their support base; to influence key constituencies and actors; to engineer forms of direct and indirect control for the purpose of strengthening and supporting chosen clients; and ultimately to use all of these tricks to ensure the realisation of desired strategic objectives. The battlespace became a sort of ‘patchwork quilt’ where violent and non-violent forms of action mixed uneasily, and military and political activity become largely indistinguishable from one another.30 This in essence was a true form of political warfare and the British Army, in its turn to this new and unfamiliar paradigm, struggled to compete. The control of audiences and relevant actors proved beyond the manipulations of commanders who found themselves dealing with phenomena almost completely beyond their understanding and control, and ultimately found themselves manipulated by those that they sought to influence.31

What the experience of Afghanistan and Iraq showed was that when required to abandon its favoured paradigm of battle in favour of the uncertainty and ambiguity of political action, the British Army tended to flounder. It’s not an isolated case. In Vietnam the US Army failed to engage with South Vietnamese politics, for fear of compromising core military and organisational values. As a consequence, it essentially separated itself from the US’s overarching pacification strategy.32 In the Algerian War 1954-62, the French Army consciously abandoned the ‘political’ fight against Algerian nationalists because it again offended valuable cultural and organisational imperatives relating to self-identity and resources.33 Even in the Iraq war, publication of the celebrated population-centric COIN manual FM 3-24 disguised a continued preference for the use of force over proper political engagement.34  This sort of habitually selective engagement with doctrine reinforces the observation made by Peter Drucker that, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’.35

In the US and UK in particular the secular nature of the civil-military relationship has tended to create a corporate culture that, with the exception of small pockets of excellence, resists any blurring of the lines between political and military action.36 It’s not clear whether recent doctrinal concepts such as ‘Integrated Action’ is enough to force a re-adjustment of this tradition. A tradition moreover that stands in stark contrast to that embodied by potential opponents such as the Russians whose long history in these dark arts has created a machine that, ‘[f]rom the tsars through the Bolsheviks, [has] long been accustomed to a style of warfare that refuses to acknowledge any hard and fast distinctions between overt and covert, kinetic and political’.37 But even then, such apparent experts have found political warfare to be remarkably difficult. Their swift and relatively bloodless takeover of the Crimea in 2014 was not a product of unstoppable political warfare acumen, but rather a number of very specific and advantageous factors unlikely to be repeated elsewhere. And as observers point out, the subsequent assault on Ukraine was an entirely different prospect. ‘Political’ action by way of subversion, agitation and propaganda and the use of ‘little green men’, only got the Russians so far. Once the Ukrainians responded with robust military countermeasures Russian political warfare found itself on the brink of failure and had to be rescued by conventional military power. Even now, Russia finds itself locked into an expensive, frozen conflict in the Donbas.38

Ultimately of course, it’s probably fair to suggest that no matter the public pronouncements on the part of its senior leadership, a vision of political warfare without the recourse to violent action holds little appeal for the British Army. On a purely military level, sub-threshold warfare may be all the rage, but as the Ukrainians demonstrated, it does not invalidate traditional military force. On an institutional level, a vision of the British Army as primarily engaged in the dark arts of soft power, subterfuge and informational warfare would allow a massive reduction in its slice of the defence budget vice the other services, the latter tied as they are to hyper expensive, technologically advanced platforms.

Education, training and leadership

Who doesn’t enjoy a classroom? (Defence Imagery, 2020)

Thoughts as to the cultural suitability of the British Army for a heightened role in the exercise of soft-power and Political Warfare brings us to the last major consideration of The Soft Power Army, that of how Land forces should prepare themselves in a cognitive and intellectual sense for the future. In essence, how do we adjust the skills and mentalities of our ‘managers of violence’, (the sociologically defined core professional identity of western military officers), and turn them instead into ‘managers of soft power, influence, and political action’?39

The Army has a tough job. In comparison to an employer such as McKinsey’s, which recruits strategic and innovative thinkers from the off, the British Army’s officer selection process identifies and recruits those suited to low-level tactical leadership positions. It must then turn this raw material into strategic and innovative thinkers, all the time risking their departure to far more lucrative careers outside of the military. The response, according to the original article, should be to push forward with an emphasis upon STEM training and digital literacy in order to create a more technologically savvy Army. Another priority would be engendering a deeper understanding of politicians and diplomats, ‘to discover their pain points and understand their political objectives’.40 All in all the effort should be to develop divergent and critical thinking skills – ‘more MBA’s, the odd PhD‘- that result in Land Forces that can create and deliver  innovative solutions that achieve political objectives at home and abroad.41

The argument is spot-on in some respects. An Army that prioritises warfighting as its modus operandi has the potential to inflexibly apply that mentality to a range of ‘lesser’ problems. Many commentators lay responsibility for shortcomings in the British and US campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan at the foot of this ‘appropriately military’ mindset. That mindset is exaggerated by a tendency to celebrate the ‘warrior’ mentality and the dominance of combat arms in senior appointments. There is also an argument that the sheer prevalence of men in positions of command authority promotes a particular approach to problem solving, namely one that privileges qualities such as force, speed, aggression and decisiveness.42 But, as always, there are cautionary points to be made. In the effort to encourage the Army to forego ‘Brawn’ for ‘Brains’, you actually begin to chip away at precisely what militaries are for, why they are distinctive from other arms of Government, and why we need them (the skilful application of violence on behalf of the state). Moreover, brawn and brains are not mutually exclusive. Military professionals are often highly sophisticated intellectual actors – receptive to new ideas and new ways of thinking.43 This concurs with the author’s own experience. The problem is that such individuals are often projected into situations where no amount of clever thinking or innovation can deliver the political objectives demanded. Afghanistan is a case in point. Such were the structural obstacles to an effective resolution to that conflict that, once the decision to go to war had been agreed, there were no ‘better’ strategies or operational approaches that could deliver what was being demanded by policymakers, largely because those same policymakers did not themselves know what they wanted.44 As Stanley McChrystal admitted, when asked what had gone wrong in Iraq and Afghanistan, ‘that in both cases we didn’t understand the problem or the objective’.45 No amount of STEM training, digital literacy or study of politics/diplomacy can compensate for that sort of lacuna.

Moreover, if one does seek to create a military machine that thinks differently, and is fully integrated with the UK defence industry, then the proposal that Land HQs should feature more MBA’s and the odd PhD, as well as ‘[M]ore pony-tailed cyber geeks, market analysts, public relations lovies, virologists and a good sprinkling of corporate lawyers’ isn’t really enough.46 Such a random sprinkling of talent is unlikely to seriously change corporate culture. Real change demands an entirely new mentality with respect to learning and syllabi. STEM and other such disciplines are important, obviously, but how do you also ensure that your Captains and Majors remain expert in their core business of soldiering. At what point in their careers do you encourage them to go off and spend multiple years doing their research, and who pays for it? What are the mechanisms for incorporating their learning? And are you, as an organisation, prepared to listen when they tell you things you don’t want to hear?


If one really wants to make a difference to the way the British Army thinks, then alongside broader forms of cultural and professional diversity then one needs to look at a genuinely embedded approach to organisational innovation. One promising model is the Israeli Talpiot programme. Here, outstanding prospects in maths and science compete for what is effectively a 9-year posting with the Israel Defense Force (IDF). In conjunction with their undergraduate studies at University, they are given intense exposure to all sectors of the IDF. After 40 months they can then choose to move into R&D within the IDF itself or various parts of Israel’s defence industry, or indeed a combat position should they so choose, for a further 6 years of service. Upon leaving, many Talpiot graduates achieve remarkable personal and financial success in the tech and science sectors. Crucially, in light of The Soft Power Army’s plea for proper integration between land forces and the UK defence industry so as to maximise the economic benefits of defence-related activities, Talpiot graduates retain their links with the IDF, furthering and deepening the symbiotic relationship between defence and private industry. The Talpiot program is credited by many with giving the IDF its vaunted intellectual ‘edge’.47

The problem of course is that the IDF not only has a captive and engaged recruiting pool, but it is also an Army (and armed forces in general) that has a very definite sense of purpose. It’s not about spreading influence by soft power thousands of miles away by subtle means. It is about protecting the nation and its people from a direct set of threats. The British Army doesn’t have the luxury of such certainty. That’s why despite its plea for an alternative approach to the use of military power, The Soft-Power Army concluded by arguing that the future will most likely see, ‘an increased use of special forces, specialised infantry, wheeled mobility and airborne’.48 It’s hard to argue against that, but it does ask questions of precisely where such relatively orthodox capabilities fit into the soft-power/political warfare paradigm of the future as advanced at the outset of the article. In that respect, the author would appear to be hedging their bets. This is not to say that they’re wrong. Indeed, they’re probably on the money. My point in turn is less about specific capabilities. You’re likely to be found wanting whichever direction you take in that respect.  It would simply be that whatever the future British Army looks like, it must preserve for itself a coherent understanding of what military power is and exactly what it’s for.

Christian Tripodi

Dr Christian Tripodi is Senior Lecturer at King's College London, and a member of the academic faculty at the Joint Services Command and Staff College.



  1. Crilly,Soft Power Army’
  2. Martin Crilly, ‘The Soft Power Army of the 2020’s’, The Wavell Room 28th May 2020 https://wavellroom.com/2020/05/28/the-soft-power-army-of-the-2020s/.
  3. Dominic Tierney, ‘Avoiding Nation-Building: From Nixon to Trump’ Parameters 48:1 2018 (Carlisle, US Army War College), 25-37
  4. Whether this was ever the right solution to the problems faced is another debate, of course.
  5. See Mark Galeotti, Russian Political War: Moving Beyond the Hybrid (Routledge, 2019), 46-48, and Michael Kofman ‘Russia’s armed forces under Gerasimov, the man without a doctrine’. https://russianmilitaryanalysis.wordpress.com/2020/04/02/russias-armed-forces-under-gerasimov-the-man-without-a-doctrine/ Both emphasise the central importance of conventional military capabilities in Russian military doctrine.
  6. The Times, ‘Nato wants global fightback to stop China’s ‘bullying’’ June 10 2020 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/nato-wants-global-fightback-to-stop-china-s-bullying-g7k6xgd9t
  7. The most recent National Security Capability Review (2018) refers multiple times to the relationship between unstable states/regions, and UK National Security. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/705347/6.4391_CO_National-Security-Review_web.pdf
  8. https://www.reddit.com/r/HistoryMemes/comments/b3ze7v/visit_germany_before_germany_visits_you/
  9. Tierney, ‘Avoiding Nation Building’, 30]
  10. Crisis in the Sahel becoming France’s forever war, NY Times, March 29 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/world/africa/france-sahel-west-africa-.html
  11. Crilly, ‘Soft Power Army’
  12. https://softpower30.com/. Figures for 2018.
  13. Chief of The Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter’s annual speech (2019) https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/chief-of-the-defence-staff-general-sir-nick-carters-annual-rusi-speech
  14. Crilly, ‘Soft Power Army’
  15. https://softpower30.com/. Figures for 2019.
  16. Ibid
  17. For more on the difficulty of relevant metrics, see https://www.parliament.uk/documents/joint-committees/national-security-strategy/Written-evidence/2015-20-Parliament/Written-evidence-from-Professor-Patrick-Porter-Strategy-and-Security-Institute.pdf
  18. The Times, 17 June 2020 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/department-for-international-development-to-be-scrapped-says-johnson-cgj0svjvw
  19. https://www.chathamhouse.org/event/britain-s-soft-power-potential-conversation-penny-mordaunt
  20. https://rusi.org/commentary/what-happens-when-soft-power-has-stay-home
  21. Crilly, ‘Soft Power Army’
  22. UK Parliament: Persuasion and Power in the Modern World (2014) Select Committee on Soft Power and the UK’s Influence https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201314/ldselect/ldsoftpower/150/15008.htm
  23. Top UN court orders Myanmar to protect Rohingya from genocide https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/01/1055841
  24. One must be careful to distinguish here between Hybrid warfare, which crudely speaking is a concept quite narrowly related to the battlefield, and Political Warfare, which describes measures short of war designed to weaken, undermine and confuse an opponent, with thee measures either sufficing in themselves, or preparing the ground for effective military operations. For an excellent description of the concepts see Ofer Fridman, Russian Hybrid Warfare: Resurgence and Politicisation (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  25. Crilly, ‘Soft Power Army’
  26. See George Kennan, The Inauguration of Organised Political Warfare, April 30th 1948 https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114320.pdf?v=941dc9ee5c6e51333ea9ebbbc9104e8c. Kennan had previously been a diplomat in Moscow during the war. It was there, in 1944, that his ‘Long Telegram’ regarding the USSR’s post-war intent became influential in setting the basis for US strategy during the Cold War.
  27. See Kennan, The Inauguration of Organized Political Warfare, 7.
  28. See Linda Robinson et al; Modern Political Warfare: Current Practices and Possible Responses (RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, 2018).
  29. Rory Cormac, Disrupt and Deny: Spies, Special Forces and the Secret Pursuit of British Foreign Policy (Oxford University Press, 2018), 20-25.
  30. Emile Simpson, War from the Ground Up: 21st Century Politics as Combat (Oxford University Press, 2013), 1-15.
  31. For more on the matter of manipulation, see Mike Martin, An Intimate War an Oral History of the Helmand Conflict 1978-2012 (Oxford University Press, 2015), 234.
  32. See Gregory Daddis, Westmoreland’s War: Reassessing American Strategy in Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  33. D. Michael Shafer. Deadly Paradigms: The Failure of US Counterinsurgency Policy (Princeton University Press, 2014), 135-166.
  34. For more on the distance between theory and practice in COIN doctrine see Douglas Porch, Counterinsurgency: Exposing the Myths of the New Way of War (Cambridge university Press, 2013) 300-303
  35. Quote attributed to both Peter Drucker and the former CEO of Ford, Mark Fields.
  36. Notably 77 Brigade and other elements within UK 6th Division
  37. Galleoti, Russian political War, 32
  38. Ibid, 82
  39. Anthony King, Command: The 21st Century General (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 63
  40. Crilly, ‘The Soft Power Army’
  41. Ibid
  42. With regard to the ‘Warrior’ mentality see Ryan Noordally ‘On the Toxicity of the Warrior Ethos’, Wavell Room 28th April 2020 https://wavellroom.com/2020/04/28/on-the-toxicity-of-the-warrior-ethos/#easy-footnote-4-23463. On the point of ‘appropriate military behaviour’ see Anthony King, ‘Understanding the Helmand Campaign: British Military Operations in Helmand’, International Affairs, 86/2 (March 2010), 322. Concerning ender, see Hilary Cornish and Claire Duncanson ‘A Feminist Approach to British Counterinsurgency’ in Paul Dixon, (ed) The British Approach to Counterinsurgency: From Malaya and Northern Ireland to Iraq and Afghanistan (London, Palgrave MacMillan, 2012), 147-173.
  43. Robert Jervis, ‘System Effects Revisited’, Critical Review, 24:3 (2012), 394
  44. Christopher Tuck: ‘Afghanistan, Strategy, and War Termination’. Parameters 42:3 (US Army War College, 2012), 44-62
  45. Interview with General (Ret) Stanley McChrystal, ‘Special Operations in a Chaotic World’, Prism (Journal for the Center for Complex Operations) 6/3, (2016), 178
  46. Crilly, ‘The Soft Power Army’
  47. See Prof. Amnon Frenkel, Prof. Shlomo Maital, et al, ‘Towards Mapping National Innovation Ecosystems; Israel’s Innovation Ecosystem’, 8-9 https://www.neaman.org.il/Files/Israeli%20ecosystem_20170430133818.757.pdf
  48. Crilly, ‘The Soft Power Army’

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Magic and Information (Part 1): Dual Role Manoeuvre

Connor O

Military Learning in the 21st Century

The Wavell Room Team