UK Military Chief Launches Integrated Operating Concept

The Ministry of Defence said the concept represents the most significant shift in military thought in generations.

The Chief of the Defence Staff has launched the Integrated Operating Concept, a new approach to war fighting aimed at fundamentally changing the way the military operates.

As well as integrating the now five domains of air, sea, land, cyber and space more closely, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) says it represents the most significant shift in military thought in generations.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the concept is "all about" how the UK challenges both the competition and its adversaries.

"It’s how we’re going to conduct modern warfare both above and below the threshold," he said.

With disinformation, GPS jamming and proxy wars, adversaries are operating outside of the normal rules-based order.

"Their goal is to win without going to war," said General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff.

"To achieve their objectives by breaking our willpower using attacks below the threshold that would prompt a war fighting response."

The Integrated Operating Concept describes the world being at a point of shift, from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.

And Gen Carter said the UK must “fundamentally change our thinking if we are not to be overwhelmed”.

"The pervasiveness of information and rapid technological development have changed the character of warfare and of politics," he said.

The Integrated Operating Concept will include crewed, uncrewed and autonomous platforms in the military's capabilities (Picture: DSTL).

The MOD said the concept will allow the UK to drive the condition and tempo of strategic activity, rather than simply responding to the actions of others and General Carter said the concept adds competition to the traditional deterrence model of comprehension, credibility, capability and communication.

"Competing involves a campaign posture that includes continuous operating on our terms and in places of our choosing," he said.

"This posture will be engaged and forward deployed – Armed Forces much more in use rather than dedicated solely for contingency – with training and exercising being delivered as operations."

Electronic warfare will become more of a focus, with crewed, un-crewed and autonomous platforms included in the military’s capabilities.

This new approach will be enabled by a “digital backbone into which all sensors, effectors and deciders will be plugged," Gen Carter said.

"This means that some industrial age capabilities will increasingly have to meet their sunset," he said.

"The trick is how you find a path through the night."

Which capabilities might "meet their sunset" hasn’t been revealed and while senior defence officials say a request has been made to the Treasury for more money, a massive increase in funding doesn’t look likely. 

All decisions will also mean changes to the military’s legal, ethical and moral frameworks.

Cover image: British Army.