Strategy Forum 

In 2014, as part of a competitive tender process, the CCW Programme successfully bid for the opportunity to convene the triannual meetings of the Chief of the Defence Staff’s UK Strategy Forum. The aim of the Forum is to promote the development, education, and training of strategic thinkers across Defence. Employing a combination of creative thinking and evidence-based analysis, these events allow participants the opportunity to discuss strategic issues in depth in order to be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. The attendees reflect the character of CCW – bringing together policymakers, civil service, armed forces, academics as well as others from the private and public sectors. The diversity is to assist in enhancing the debate and ideas and to establish a porous network which will provide a novel and challenging feedback loop of ideas between military and non-military members of the Forum, ultimately enhancing policy-making across Whitehall.

The last Strategy Forum took place on 15 March 2017 in Pembroke College, Oxford and considered the theme of Russia.


To date, CCW has convened the following Strategy Forum events:

Misuse and Abuse of Strategy in Government

10 October 2014 at Pembroke College, Oxford

Keynote Speaker: Herman Narula (CEO of Improbable)

Making the Most of our People

12 March 2015 in HMS President in London

Dr Eamonn Molloy (Fellow in Management Studies, University of Oxford)

Making Deterrence work in the 21st Century

15 July 2015 in Merton College, Oxford

Dr Scilla Elworthy (Nobel Peace Prize nominee; Founder, Oxford Research Group)

UK Defence: International by Design

Tuesday 2 February 2016 at Pembroke College, Oxford

Keynote speaker: Professor Janne Matlary (Professor of International Politics, University of Oslo; former State Secretary, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Developing Skills for the Next Generation

Wednesday 15 June 2016 at the Royal College of Defence Studies, Belgrave Square, London

Keynote speaker:  Professor Peter Grindrod (Professor of Mathematics, University of Oxford; former member of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)

Global Inequality and Insecurity – Strategic Considerations for the United Kingdom

1 December 2016 in Pembroke College, Oxford

Frances Stewart, Professor Emeritus in Development Economics, University of Oxford

In 2009, the CDS’s Strategy Forum was convened to debate issues of relevance in Defence, responding to questions on which CDS sought clarification. The Forum consisted of an on-line element and an annual meeting, but both, it was felt, would have benefited from a more critical approach. Today, there is a new willingness to engage with those outside of Defence in order to enhance the quality of strategic thinking and to better inform decision-making. To that end, and applying what has been learned since 2009, the Strategy Forum was re-launched as a series of workshops with CCW at Pembroke College, Oxford.

The aim has been to provide a forum to promote the development, education and training of strategic thinkers across Defence, to include the understanding and use of creative thinking and evidence-based analysis, thereby seizing the opportunity to discuss strategic issues in depth, relevant to the UK’s Defence and Security, in order to improve strategic decision-making. Moreover, the forum has been a focus for the study of conflict and wider security issues, in the past, present and future, in order to be better prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

The attendees reflect the character of CCW – bringing together the policy-makers, civil service, armed forces, academics and those in the private and public sector that have much to teach us about the challenges of making and delivery strategy. This group, drawn from a deliberately broad cross section, of academics, business and industry leaders, policymakers, and think tanks, helped to establish a porous network that compliments those who have passed through professional military education. The diversity is there to assist in enhancing the debate and ideas. Such a network is designed to provide a novel and challenging feedback loop of ideas between military and non-military members of the Forum, which can, ultimately, enhance policy-making across Whitehall.