RUSI Land Warfare Conference 2018 on Twenty-First Century Manoeuvre

RUSI Land Warfare Conference 2018

Annual Conference Focuses on Manoeuvre in the Twenty-First Century

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) held its annual land warfare conference on behalf of the Chief of the General Staff at Church House Conference Centre, 19-20 June 2018. According to RUSI, ‘this conference reflects on the breadth of challenges confronting today’s land forces in a global security environment characterised by constant competition and unpredictability.’

Chief of the General Staff, Lt Gen. Mark Carleton Smith

The Chief of the General Staff, Lt Gen. Mark Carleton Smith, opened the conference by highlighting both the changing times ‘when the definition of a common global strategy looks increasingly elusive’ in which land forces must now compete, and the changing nature of war itself in ‘a man-made domain, unconstrained by geography and of near unlimited scope’.

Around 43 countries were represented at the conference, making it ‘a near unique military gathering’ in the words of Lt Gen. Carleton Smith.

From the Evolution of Manoeuvre to Training for the Future Battlespace

Author and journalist, Allan Mallinson, chaired the first session looking at the evolution of manoeuvre. Dr Rob Johnson, Director of the University of Oxford’s ‘Changing Character of War’ programme, Dr David Kilcullen (CEO, Cordillera Applications Group) and General Sir Rupert Smith were asked how manoeuvre has changed and whether it still matters.

RUSI’s Senior Associate Fellow, Prof. Michael Clarke, chaired a session looking at how land forces contribute to strategic outcomes, The National Security Advisor, Sir Mark Sedwill and others put forward civilian and military viewpoints on how the expectations of land forces are changing and how these new demands can be met.

The Director of Exeter University’s Strategy and Security Institute, Lt Gen. (Retd) Prof. Sir Paul Newton asked Peter Singer (New America), Prof. Hugh Durrant-Whyte (MOD’s Chief Scientific Advisor), Maj. Kitty MacKendrick (Chatham House) and Maj. Gen. Christopher Tickell (Director Capability, British Army) what capabilities were needed to be able to out-manoeuvre adversaries in the future.

Lt Gen. (Retd) Ben Hodges (Center for European Policy Analysis) chaired a panel of senior representatives from the US, British, French and German armies to consider how allied nations are modernizing to manoeuvre beyond 2025.

A related theme was to consider how land forces should train for the future battlespace. Lt Gen. Patrick Sanders (Commander Field Army) asked Lt Gen. Joseph Anderson (US Army Europe), Mike Sewart (QinetiQ) and Maj. Gen. Timothy Hyams (Director Land Warfare, British Army) to present their thoughts.

The Chief of the General Staff, Lt Gen. Mark Carleton Smith, ended the conference with a keynote speech.

Speakers at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference 2018

  • The Rt Hon Mark Lancaster TD MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces
  • General Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff
  • Gen. Salvatore Farina, Chief of Staff, Italian Army
  • Lt Gen. Jörg Vollmer, Chief of Staff, German Army
  • Lt Gen. Joseph Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff, Headquarters Department of the Army G-3/5/7
  • Lt Gen. Christopher Cavoli, Commander, US Army Europe
  • Lt Gen. Patrick Sanders, Commander Field Army
  • Major Kitty McKendrick, CGS Fellow, Chatham House
  • WO1 Glenn Haughton, Army Sergeant Major
  • Lord Hague of Richmond, Chairman, RUSI
  • Dr Karin von Hippel, Director-General, RUSI
  • Prof. Hugh Durrant-Whyte, Chief Scientific Advisor, MOD
  • Dr David Kilcullen, CEO, Cordillera Applications Group
  • Gen. Sir Rupert Smith, Author ‘Utility of Force
  • Lt Gen. (Retd) Ben Hodges, Pershing Chair, Center for European Policy Analysis
  • Ms Elisabeth Braw, Senior Consultant, Control Risks
  • Lt Gen. (Retd) Prof Sir Paul Newton, Director SSI, Exeter University

Image: Pictured is a French Leclerc Mk2 Main Battle Tank (MBT) in Silhouette, and shrouded in smoke after firing during the live fire element of a joint UK/French exercise as part of the eFP deployment. The aim of the exercise was to give troops from both France and the UK a chance to watch each other’s main battle tanks in action, the Leclerc Mk2 from France and the Challenger 2 from the UK. After the tank ranges had finished, both armies set up a range to test out each other’s individual weapon system, an activity enjoy by all due to its rarity. The enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Estonia deployed on an Estonian Defence League organised exercise, which saw members of the 5 RIFLES BG tested in both an armoured and light role phase. UK Armed Forces are taking a leading role in NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), with the British Army leading a multinational Battlegroup in Estonia from early 2017. The eFP in the Baltic States will see the deployment of robust, multinational, combat-ready forces to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, on a persistent, rotational basis. This movement forms part of a wider package of initiatives designed to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure our Allies and deter our adversaries. This deployment is just one aspect of a wide range of UK support to NATO. From January 2017, the UK assumed responsibility for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) contributing about 3,000 personnel, leading a structured group of 14 partner nations. Photograph by LCpl Craig Williams, Crown Copyright, 2017.