'Lack Of Authority' In MOD's 'How Defence Works' Report

The updated report by the Ministry of Defence is designed to provide a framework for chiefs across the Armed Forces to follow.

A Royal Air Force veteran and analyst says an updated report from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) on how the military should operate suffers from a "lack of authority", with "less detail in it than there could be".

'How Defence Works: The Defence Operating Model' (DOM) provides a framework for chiefs across the Armed Forces to follow.

It explains how the MOD integrates with the rest of Government, and how it works with other organisations – including industry and international partners.

Version six has just been published, five years after the previous update.

Defence and Security Researcher, Air Commodore (Retired) Andrew Curtis says such a length of time between updates presents a challenge for a constantly evolving defence landscape.

He told Forces News: "Five years ago, we had a Joint Forces Command and now we have a Strategic Command. Within the enabling organisations, we’ve now got a Submarine Delivery Agency, which is quite a significant organisation.

"Not having those organisations included in the document was quite a big issue, especially for the people within those organisations that are trying to fit in to the rest of what defence does.”

Air Cdre (Ret'd) Curtis says the update is "a lot lighter" than its predecessor and "perhaps, as a result, there is a bit less detail in it than there could be".

Ministry of Defence building
Ministry of Defence Main Building (Picture: PA).

This, he believes, leads to "perhaps a bigger problem" of it lacking authority.

He says defence’s complex command construct, as detailed in the document, is mainly effective for operations but less so for daily management.

For example, he says, despite the Chief of the Defence Staff sitting "at the top, if you like, of the defence pyramid, he doesn’t actually command the service chiefs".

"In reality, they have a lot more influence and power than a lot of people think," Air Cdre (Ret'd) Curtis added.

"The problem is, you have a document that’s supposed to be the authoritative document on how the MOD operates, but not everybody follows the rules and it’s very difficult to make them."

Air Cdre (Ret'd) Curtis also questions whether the document will reach all levels of defence.

"I’m not convinced that it actually has the breadth of readership that perhaps it really should have," he said, suggesting the only way to bring the report to life is through leadership, from the very top of defence.

"Those people in the positions of authority really need to be making sure that it is read and it is adhered to, and I think if that were to happen, then it would flow down through the services and it would actually be a better document for it," he added.