Written evidence submitted by RAND Europe

Prepared for the House of Commons Liaison Sub-Committee on Scrutiny of Strategic Thinking in Government



Global strategic trends, such as climate change, technological change and great power competition are creating major strategic challenges for governments, including the UK. Addressing the uncertainties created by this confluence of strategic trends requires governments to adapt their strategic thinking and planning. Establishing clear authorities with a high level of accountability and the powers to implement strategic objectives is essential. Evidence suggests that involving the public in strategy-making can contribute to strategic goals, increase public awareness of security matters and provide greater legitimacy for the strategy as well as the government. Most importantly, long-term thinking should be prioritised over short-termism to achieve long-term strategic advantage; however, this is constrained in most democracies by electoral cycles, partisan politics, and a contested information environment. As the below evidence suggests, there are measures that could improve strategic thinking and implementation in the UK (as in many allied and partner nations). Otherwise, failing to adapt our approach to strategy development, orchestration, implementation, adaptation, and evaluation to reflect the pressures of the current and future strategic environment will not only lead to lost opportunities, but also to greater risks to the UK’s interests, values, and way of life.


Introduction to RAND

  1.              Part of the global RAND Corporation, RAND Europe is a not-for-profit research organisation with a mission to improve governmental strategy, policy and decision making through research, wargaming, and analysis. We have over 30 years of experience supporting the UK government and conducting impactful research across a range of policy areas, including defence, foreign policy, education, research and innovation, the science of science, and the impact of emerging science and technology. To learn more about RAND Europe, visit www.randeurope.org.


  1.              This written evidence was produced by Zsofia Wolford, Bryden Spurling and James Black at RAND. Following the terms of references of the inquiry, this evidence addresses the following topics, through the lens of the UK’s evolving place in the 21st-century international order:


How well Government identifies strategic opportunities as well as strategic risks and threats?

  1.              A confluence of major strategic trends is creating unprecedented challenges for governments around the world. Peer and near-peer competitors on the world stage are threatening to reshape the world order that has benefited the UK and its allies and partners in the past. Climate change is causing significant and growing disruptions to our current systems and ways of life, and mitigating its impacts requires robust and complex responses across areas ranging from critical minerals, through to a renewable energy transition, supply chain security and crisis response, to name a few. Meanwhile, rapid and profound technological change poses both challenges and opportunities for the UK, putting pressure on policy and social systems to adapt quickly.


  1.              Governments are typically quite good at identifying these risks and threats. In the UK’s case, the major risks outlined above, and what they mean for the country, have been much analysed over a long period, informed by capable intelligence agencies, other sources of evidence, and investment by all government departments in internal or externally commissioned analyses. This is reflected also in the shift in the 2000s towards a risk-based methodology, as reflected in the 2010 and 2015 National Security Strategies (NSSs) an associated Strategic Defence and Security Reviews (SDSRs), or the maintenance of a National Risk Register (NRR).[1]


  1.              It is also fair to say, however, that opportunities feature less often than problems, risks, and threats in government strategy. As Halford Mackinder put it, “Democracy refuses to think strategically unless and until compelled to do so for purposes of defence”.  This is reflective of a natural disposition of democratic governments towards a short-term and reactive mindset, shaped by electoral cycles, and the UK is not alone in having this feature in its strategic culture.


  1.              Furthermore, this focus on risk presupposes that government has a good understanding of the two components of risk: namely, the likelihood that something might happen (e.g., that war might occur, or that an Artificial General Intelligence might be developed) and the impact(s) that this would have. In reality, however, governments are often faced not with risk but uncertainty: it can be difficult to quantify either likelihood, impact, or both, in relation to certain threats. This phenomenon is especially concerning when it relates to those strategic challenges, such as climate change, which may have cascading and unpredictable second- or third-order effects across complex adaptive systems such as the global economy or the environment. (This was the case with COVID-19, or the war in Ukraine, both of which have had a series of unanticipated knock-on effects, e.g., on supply chains.)[2] 


  1.              Uncertainty of this kind makes it hard for government to cross-compare different threats – or opportunities – and to make balance of investment decisions. Consequently, an array of methods for developing more robust strategies, known as Robust Decision Making (RDM) or Decision Making Under Uncertainty (DMDU), have emerged in academia but only been partially applied in governments on both sides of the Atlantic.[3] As such, rather than focusing strategy on flexibility, adaptation and resilience in the face of potential known and unknown unknowns, governments tend to prioritise investments based on a defined sub-set of scenarios it perceives as most likely – increasing the risk of strategic surprise when global events do not unfold as anticipated.


  1.              Arguably for the UK and its democratic allies and partners, this has previously manifested as lost opportunity. But in the 21st century, with so many major trends putting pressure on the UK’s interests, value and strategic advantage at the same time, a lack of strategic thinking, and translation into long-term and sustained action, is generating increasing risk of bad outcomes. Successfully addressing such a confluence of strategic changes is a challenge for even the most agile and forward-thinking governments and institutions.


  1.              The UK approaches this era from a position of some strength – as one of the world’s largest economies, and with relatively high levels of science and technology expertise, defence and security capability, soft power, and social stability. Nonetheless, there are some characteristics of its system of government that frustrate efforts to think and act through the lens of proactivity, long-termism and concerted pursuit of strategic advantage using all levers of power, rather than reactive and disjointed responses to near-term challenges.


  1.            These characteristics are not unknown to this Committee, but they include the inherently short-term focus of most democracies; the nature of partisan politics limiting the prospects for policy continuity; a 24/7 media cycle and the impact of the wider information environment; bureaucratic structures split by portfolios, between which cooperation is not automatic; the slow pace of governmental uptake of the latest advances in data science, computing, AI and related decision support technologies to improve the quality and timeliness of evidence and insights; competition for key talent and niche skills, including from the private sector; and government processes and bandwidth that appear to struggle to keep up with fast-evolving challenges.[4]


  1.          Many of these characteristics have long been in place and constrained the ability of the UK to think and act strategically. Nor are these unique to the UK – many of the UK’s democratic partners exhibit similar characteristics. What is different about the current moment is that the speed and scale of change in the strategic environment threatens the capacity and bandwidth of government and current institutions to adapt and exploit the opportunities, or mitigate the problems, that these disruptive trends create.[5] So, while improvements have been made in recent years, with successive waves of reform promising a ‘comprehensive approach’, then ‘Fusion Doctrine’ and more recently the language of ‘integration’, there is still more to be done.


  1.          A problem with allowing a reactive approach to threats to dominate strategic thinking is that it can lead to policy that, while sound and defensible in its own right, may not consider all levers of national power or ways and means to achieve strategic objectives, and which may not be sufficiently robust to deal with unanticipated developments should key assumptions be proven incorrect or simply change.[6] A focus on risk can also arguably lead to an over-securitisation of policy, as the defence and national security apparatus remains one of the government’s primary, relatively well-resourced, and – and more often than most others – bipartisan means of dealing with some of the symptoms if not necessarily the underlying drivers of that risk. This can in turn mean other levers of national power are under-resourced, including diplomacy, information, economics, science or culture, or not properly integrated into a whole-of-government response. Proactive strategy that considers opportunities in these other policy domains can also achieve security ends in their own right.


  1.          Similarly, focusing on a traditional ‘ends’, ‘ways’ and ‘means’ methodology for strategy making can result in a linear and inflexible approach that risks creating strategies which are either so rigid as to not allow for learning and adaptation over time, or so broad as to not provide the clarity and detail needed to drive implementation, enable success and failure to be measured, or hold the relevant leaders and officials to account. As a consequence, some academics and practitioners have argued that the 21st-century requires a more non-linear, adaptive approach than ends-ways-means – one with more focus on uncertainty, more frequent feedback loops to enable adjustments in light of changing circumstances, and more emphasis on strategy orchestration, implementation and evaluation (strategy doing rather than strategy making).[7]


  1.          The Integrated Review is arguably an example of a more linear and reactive approach enduring, even as it tries to encourage government towards more proactivity and long-termism (a welcome if not fully realised goal). An examination of the UK’s place in the 21st century international order could start with a vision of the world as the UK would like it to be, but instead the Integrated Review Refresh 2023 is grounded firmly in the world as it is. This is even reflected in the title – “Responding to a more volatile and contested world”.


  1.          To be clear, the Integrated Review is not unusual in this way. Many analogous documents in comparable countries are similarly structured first around an assessment of the strategic environment, which may predispose planners to think in reactive terms rather than proactively about the outcomes they would wish to createwhere risks are seen not as the outcome to be avoided in itself, but instead as something to be overcome in achieving broader national aims. This in turn can lead to a reactive policy and planning process centred on crisis management instead of proactive shaping of the environment to maximise the UK’s strategic advantage and create the conditions for success. [8]


  1. One of the challenges for the UK in acting strategically is the lack of clear institutional authority with the power to enforce the implementation of measures required to achieve strategic objectives. While the Cabinet Office does fulfil this role to some extent, aided also by scrutiny functions such as Parliament and the National Audit Office (NAO), there is room for greater accountability in the implementation and subsequent monitoring and evaluation of government strategy.[9] Consideration should be given to the pros and cons of empowering a whole-of-government agency or institution to implement, or at least monitor, in a more fearless way how the UK is progressing against its strategy and national ambitions, as well as mechanisms that ensure that accountability is established on all levels for the delivery of said strategy. If there is no clear institutional authority and accompanying alignment of organisational and individual incentives for those charged with implementation of aspects of the overarching strategy, it is challenging to ‘enforce’ progress towards strategic ambitions, or at the least to monitor and report frankly on that progress, and unearth important lessons learned along the way. Such a process could also be an important means of engaging the public in a narrative of long-term national ambition and progress against it.


  1.          Without this, overarching national priorities are frequently not clearly established, and departmental incentives are not aligned in pursuit of these, exacerbating dissonance between departments, ministers, officials, and teams with overlapping but distinct priorities. Consequently, if cross-departmental cooperation on strategic questions is not better realised, decision-making by ministerial departments will remain fragmented. Not using or not harmonising all instruments of power available (diplomatic, information, economic etc.) hinders strategic objectives and leads to ineffective policymaking.[10] The lack of policy harmonisation across departments also risks duplication of effort or contradictions between departmental policies, making less efficient use of finite resource. This is especially problematic when the UK is seeking to compete with actors such as China (which, unlike the democratic UK, has both a vast government apparatus and the power as an authoritarian regime to compel cooperation from the private sector through its model of Military-Civil Fusion). This strategic competition necessitates that the UK make more efficient use of its resources and more coordinated use of all levers of power, including its alliances, to punch above its weight.


How effectively Government uses internal and external challenge; how feedback loops are used to ensure that lessons from delivery are utilised when developing future strategic plans


  1.          A good strategy needs to be supported by specific action and intent, an acknowledgement of trade-offs that ensure resources are prioritised to achieving the strategy, and a frank and ongoing review of progress to inform continual update.


  1.          There are many mechanisms the Government uses to challenge strategic thinking and the various components of strategy-making. These include:


    1. Futures and foresight, including horizon scanning and trends or scenario analysis;
    2. Gaming and red-teaming;
    3. Modelling and simulation;
    4. Public consultation;
    5. Engagement with academics, industry, research organisations (e.g., RAND), and think-tanks, both routinely and specifically in relation to a given planning product;
    6. Engagement with allies and partners (e.g., to exchange threat assessments); and
    7. Parliamentary scrutiny.


  1.          The question becomes to what extent these mechanisms are actually used to draw useful lessons that are implemented in subsequent planning. The evidence is mixed. 


  1.          While these processes are undoubtedly preferable to not having them, it’s clear that they are not always as influential as might be expected. In 2004, the Butler Review found that informal Government processes around strategic decisions, such as the invasion of Iraq, hinder informed political judgement as evidence provided through the above processes are not always incorporated in the decision-making.[11] The Chilcot Review came to a similar conclusion in 2016, highlighting that the evidence base to inform policy decisions should be more robust, and that effective processes should be in place to scrutinise and test the evidence.[12] Then, more than a decade after the establishment of the National Security Council (NSC) in 2010, the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy (JCNSS) concluded in a report[13] that the NSC lacks strategic vision and leadership, echoing various experts’ criticisms.[14] And while the model of the NSC could indeed be a crucial body for British strategic thinking, some changes – such as granting greater authority to the NSC, or expanding its functions to better facilitate the supervision of the implementation of national and cross-departmental strategies – would be necessary to ensure it can deliver on its full purpose given the myriad obstacles faced.


  1.          As another example, the concept of resilience is a recurring theme of both the Integrated Review 2021 and the Integrated Review Refresh 2023. In October 2022, however, the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy pointed out in their report on the UK’s Critical National Infrastructure (CNI)[15] that the UK Government is yet to improve the resilience of the CNI amid the impacts of climate change despite national resilience being one of the priorities of IR2021 and IR2023. While valuable, detailed and constructive feedback was provided by the Foreign Affairs Committee, the lessons learned remain unaddressed despite major developments such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the attacks on the Nord Stream pipelines or the energy crisis in 2022 further highlighting the deficiencies in the UK’s resilience. Despite some progress, the topic of resilience thus remains a much less prominent part of the political and strategic culture than other countries such as the Nordics, Baltics, Israel, Singapore, or South Korea.[16]


  1.          Some natural human tendencies tend to get in the way of good strategy, which remains a people-focused activity and thus subject to the impact of cognitive bias. Optimism bias, groupthink and a lack of accountability are all prominent examples. Government institutions can also tilt towards averting risk rather than seizing opportunity (which necessarily requires some comfort with risk), and worry more about risks of commission than risks of omission, leading to excessive caution in strategy implementation.  A long-term strategy may also clash with the short-term incentives and objectives of those individuals and organisations charged with the implementation, if they perceive a risk to their own goals or position in engaging with a strategy, further hindering action.


  1.          Strategies also frequently lack quantitative and qualitative performance indicators to ensure accountability and facilitate discussions about lessons identified (translating them into genuine lessons learned). Even where these indicators exist, their value can be undone by an institutional (and very human) fear of admitting failure. At many levels – the individual, political, and broader societal level – failure is treated as something to be avoided rather than as a learning experience. Political leaders are disincentivised from having frank and potentially difficult conversations with voters about challenges, opportunities, and the trade-offs that the UK faces in responding to them. And voters themselves also contribute to this dilemma – polls and surveys often show a great gap between the number of voters who want government action on a certain topic and the number of voters who would be willing to pay for the cost of those actions.[17]


  1.          While many experts call for a more adaptive, non-linear approach towards strategy that responds to continuous feedback and changes to the strategic environment, it cannot be achieved without a strategic culture comfortable with debates on differing opinions and with a more recursive, honest, and iterative approach towards strategy-making. A culture that enables frank discussions and comfort with failure as an opportunity to learn and adjust is far preferable for a long-term strategy. Achieving this cultural change can take a long time and requires mechanisms that allow space for difficult conversations on progress, or lack of, to be established.


How other parliaments around the world are engaging with the strategic thinking of their respective governments?


  1.          RAND has long compared how different nations tackle strategy making and implementation, as part of its research support to governments around the world. This includes considering the role of parliamentary input or oversight in strategy making. In 2021, for example, RAND delivered a comparative analysis of four countries’ – Finland, France, Germany and Spain – national security strategies, as commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Defence.[18] Our study found that the examined countries adopted a broad conceptualisation of security, allowing for a whole-of-society approach in the implementation of national security strategies. Indeed, most examined countries prioritise the involvement not only of their parliament, but also of the wider public, the scientific community and industrial organisations during the development as well as the implementation of their strategy. This can improve societal preparedness and may also support realisation of a ‘Total Defence’ or ‘comprehensive security’ approach that engages all of society, not just the public sector, in addressing security and resilience challenges. For example, Finland’s 2016 strategy focuses heavily on the ’72-hours concept’ of domestic preparedness, which envisions that all citizens should be able to survive for 72 hours without government assistance, leading to greater interest and involvement in security matters by the general public.
  2.          The case studies in RAND’s report showed how some countries have centralised bodies or committees responsible for strategic thinking and the implementation of lessons learned, while other countries, such as Germany, develop their strategic plans with greater participation from legislators, the public and SMEs. The extent to which external stakeholders and experts are involved in the development of strategies varies greatly between the examined countries, with France embedding experts into government bodies while Germany relies instead on ad-hoc SME inputs. (Due to the significant differences between administrative cultures and the political contexts in these countries, as well as the external threats they each face, the report could not point to a country with the most effective or productive approaches to strategic thinking.[19])
  3.          In terms of implementing lessons learned or constructive feedback, the study shows that the examined countries are facing similar challenges to the UK. As there are arguably insufficient feedback channels and mechanisms – parliamentary or otherwise – for monitoring and ensuring the implementation of lessons identified, the issues highlighted often remain unaddressed and do not translate into true learning or change. For instance, there is limited cooperation between authorities conducting threat assessments and policymakers in the Netherlands, making it challenging to translate changes to the strategic environment into shifts in policy.
  4.          In a different study, RAND identified three main challenges the US is facing in its strategic thinking[20]. First, translating assumptions in the National Defense Strategy (NDS) to policy change remains incomplete, often due to the wide scope of change that would be required. Second, while emerging concepts in strategic documents successfully capture the changing nature of warfare, their theory of success remains underdefined. While the NDS sets out broad objectives, how those objectives would be achieved on an operational level against specific warfighting challenges are not explained. Furthermore, services’ concepts and strategic goals are often not aligned to each other, hindering integration. Finally, the study suggests that institutional culture, risk aversion and rigidity continue to be a barrier to implement major reforms to achieve the goals set out in the US’s defence strategy. Similarly to the UK, existing institutional barriers affect acquisition processes, budgeting, weapon development, personnel policies and information sharing.


What government should publish or explain about its overall strategic concept?

  1.          Involving the general public can be advantageous to the overall strategic objectives as it can be a tool to influence domestic or foreign audiences’ perceptions and to facilitate a more coordinated approach by the public, the private sector, local governments and other institutions. Such an approach has contributed greatly, for instance, to the UK’s counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST).[21]


  1.          The abovementioned study by RAND[22] points to the various benefits to engaging more proactively with the public during the development and implementation of national strategies. The involvement of civil society – including churches, the media, NGOs and industrial organisations – in strategy development could raise general awareness about strategic issues and indirectly inform and harness the support of the wider public for the implementation of strategic objectives and policies. Workshops and table-top exercises are good for this, as well as various online tools which can expose the public to choices and trade-offs.


  1.          While trust in government institutions has weakened, communicating clear strategic objectives and being more upfront about the costs, risks and trade-offs involved through sustained and frank efforts at public engagement can boost the legitimacy of governments and strategies. A number of countries, for example, routinely publish an unclassified summary of the threat assessments – either general or actor-/issue-specific – developed by their intelligence agencies, to provide context to their strategy and associated investments. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, for instance, publishes regular updates on Chinese, Russian, Iranian, and North Korean military power, as well as more standalone reports on challenges such as nuclear, unmanned systems, or security in outer space. Nor is this sort of publication drumbeat only the purview of the best-funded agencies and superpowers; the three much-smaller Norwegian intelligence and police security services similarly each issue a glossy annual assessment of changes in the strategic threat environment facing Norway.


  1.          In turn, it is important to continue to conduct and publish the findings of rigorous inquiries into the lessons from major strategic shocks or failures (as with the Chilcot Inquiry and Iraq). While these involve considerable effort, they remain vital to learning the lessons from past performance, both good and bad, and identifying practical measures and reforms that can be undertaken to improve future strategy making and implementation.


  1.          Finally, addressing the public in the communication of the strategy also enables the collection of responses and feedback regarding the perceptions and attitudes of the public, which can provide useful lessons for future strategies and policies. More routine, granular and longitudinal polling of the UK public’s attitudes on foreign and security policy issues – as opposed to the domestic issues more typically considered in surveys – could provide useful insights to guide engagement and educational activities, though in a representative democracy our strategy makers should seek to lead, not be led by public opinion. 


What additional machinery of Government, knowledge and skills are necessary to support strategic thinking and effective strategy-making and delivery, both within individual departments, and across two or more departments, and how strategy and strategic thinking can be sustained by building consensus between the main parties?

  1.          Strategic thinking and planning, or statecraft, are not a skillset that Government staff are typically encouraged to prioritise in their careers. While there exists education, guidance materials, and training in strategy and strategy-making, this education is often point-in-time – there are few strategy-making career paths to allow people to specialise in these important skills. It also typically focuses on strategy making at the departmental or sub-departmental level, as opposed to genuine statecraft and grand strategy integrating all levers of power across Whitehall and beyond.


  1.          Furthermore, what courses RAND is aware of – or actively supporting[23]tend to focus more on the theory of strategy and its design. There is comparatively less focus on the important understanding of how to give strategy its best chance of success in imperfect human systems and organisations. This could include an understanding of the ways and means to build buy-in, ensure accountability for actions in a way that fosters lessons-learned rather than punishment for failure, and how to build mechanisms that keep a strategy fresh and relevant.


  1.          Introducing more strategic professions within the Civil Service and expanding and diversifying the teaching of strategy and, relatedly, statecraft to ensure that the Civil Service is equipped with deep specialist expertise could contribute to better strategy making and delivery in the long term. Recent developments such as the College for National Security (CfNS), a commitment from the 2021 Integrated Review, provide an opportunity in this regard. The UK should aspire to recruit and retain individuals with deep subject matter expertise, and prioritise SME roles. The lack of continuity in the career of senior civil servants (or military equivalent) has also historically prevented many officials from seeing through the lifecycle of a strategy, plan, or programme, and disincentivises long-term thinking and accountability. This also negatively impacts institutional learning, further hindering long-term strategic planning and implementation.


  1.          Strategic thinking is likely to also benefit from a set of mechanisms that better promote strategic culture and empower a relevant body – whether it be the Cabinet Office, the National Security Council, a Committee, or some new apparatus – to better monitor strategy across the whole of government, regularly review progress, and propose adjustments, if not hold the responsible delivery owners to more robust account. Such a body will face significant challenges, as it could be perceived as a threat by both elected governments and by existing bureaucracies. What needs to be clear is that existing structures are struggling to adapt to the strategic demands of the time, and change is required. 



Bellasio, Jacopo, Fook Nederveen, Emma Leenders, and Sam Stockwell. 2021. Comparative Study on National Security Strategies. RAND Europe. [Not publicly available.]


Black, James, Diana Dascalu, Megan Hughes, Benedict Wilkinson, Maeve Ryan, Ahron Bregman, Peter Carlyon, Jennifer Cheung, Lawrence Freedman, Rebecca Lucas, Alessio Patalano, Patrick Porter, Fiona Quimbre, Sam Stockwell, and Mann Virdee. 2023. Strategic Advantage in a Competitive Age: Definitions, Dynamics and Implications. RAND. As of 29 September 2023: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1959-1.html


Cabinet Office. 2023. National Risk Register 2023, Gov.uk. As of 29 September 2023: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-risk-register-2023


Caves, Ben, Rebecca Lucas, Livia Dewaele, Julia Muravska, Chris Wragg, Tom Spence, Zudik Hernandez, Anna Knack, and James Black. 2021. Enhancing Defence's Contribution to Societal Resilience in the UK: Lessons from International Approaches. RAND. As of 29 September 2023: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA1113-1.html.


Ellery, David and Liane Saunders. 2020. ‘Strategy in the National Security Context: Time for an Adaptive Approach?’ in Janne Haaland Matlary and Rob Johnson (eds), Military Strategy in the Twenty-First Century.


House of Commons. 2023. Tilting horizons: the Integrated Review and the Indo-Pacific (2022-23). UK Parliament. As of 29 September 2023: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5803/cmselect/cmfaff/172/report.html


Joint Committee on National Security Strategy. 2018. National Security Capability Review: A changing security environment. First report of Session 2017-2019. House of Commons; House of Lords. As of 29 September 2023: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201719/jtselect/jtnatsec/756/756.pdf


Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. 2022. Readiness for storms ahead? Critical national infrastructure in an age of climate change (2022-23). House of Commons; House of Lords. As of 29 September 2023: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/30507/documents/175976/default/


Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. 2021. The UK’s National Security Machinery. 2021-22. House of Commons; House of Lords. As of 29 September 2023: https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/7375/documents/77226/default/


Jouan, Nicolas, James Black, Livia Dewaele, Lucia Retter, Ben Wilkinson. 2022. Strategy: a Work in Progress?. RAND. [Not publicly available.]


Luke, Alex, Will Tanner, James Blagden. 2021. ‘Thin Ice? Public Support for New Net Zero Policies. Onward. As of 29 September 2023: https://www.ukonward.com/reports/thin-ice-public-attitudes-to-net-zero/

Mackinder, Halford. 1944. Democratic Ideals and Reality. London: Pelican Books.


Mazarr, Michael J. 2023. Defending Without Dominance: Accelerating the Transition to a New U.S. Defense Strategy. RAND. As of 11 October 2023: https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PEA2555-1.html.


Omand GCB, Sir David and Suzanne Raine. 2021. ‘How to Unlock the National Security Strategy’. RUSI. As of 29 September 2023: https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/rusi-newsbrief/how-unlock-national-security-strategy


Parker, Celia. G. 2020. ‘National Security Council: why it would be unwise for Johnson to reduce its role’. LSE BlogsAs of 29 September 2023: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/national-security-council-johnson/


Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors. 2004. Review of Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction or the Butler Review. As of 29 September 2023: http://www.butlerreview.org.uk/report/report.pdf


Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors. 2016. The Report of the Iraq Inquiry. As of 29 September 2023: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/535407/The_Report_of_the_Iraq_Inquiry_-_Executive_Summary.pdf


Watling, Jack. 2022. ‘Strategy on Whitehall is in Need of Resurrection’. RUSI. As of 29 September 2023: https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/commentary/strategy-whitehall-need-resurrection


World Economic Forum. 2023. The United Kingdom is set to join the trans-Pacific free trade pact. Here’s what you need to know. As of 29 September 2023: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/04/cptpp-trade-tariff-brexit-uk/





[1] Cabinet Office (2023).

[2] Black et al. (2023).

[3] For more on this topic, and examples of RDM and related approaches in action, see: https://www.rand.org/pardee/methods-and-tools/robust-decision-making.html

[4] Black et al. (2023).

[5] Black et al. (2023).

[6] Addressing this issue is the premise of RAND-developed methodologies such as Assumptions-Based Planning (ABP), which are designed to identify ‘load bearing’ assumptions upon which a strategy, policy or plan relies, before defining an early warning system to monitor signals (e.g., changes in the strategic environment) which suggest that these assumptions may be vulnerable and then identifying ‘hedging actions’ (i.e., proactive actions to reduce the risk of the assumption being broken in future) and ‘mitigating actions’ (i.e., preparatory actions to reduce the costs/impact should that assumption indeed break). For more information on ABP, see: https://www.rand.org/topics/assumption-based-planning.html

[7] Black et al. (2023).

[8] Watling (2022).

[9] Joint Committee on National Security Strategy (2018).

[10] Black et al. (2023).

[11] Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors (2004).

[12] Report of a Committee of Privy Counsellors (2016).

[13] Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (2021).

[14] Parker (2020).

[15] Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (2022).

[16] Caves et al. (2021).

[17] Luke et al. (2021).

[18] Bellasio et al. (2021).

[19] Bellasio et al. (2021).

[20] Mazarr (2023).

[21] Omand & Raine. (2021).

[22] Bellasio et al. (2021).

[23] RAND has delivered the Strategic Exercise (StratEx) component of the Royal College of Defence Studies’ Global Strategy Programme since 2016, a year-long course intended to educate senior military and civilian officials from the UK and overseas in strategy making and related tools and good practice.