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By Squadron Leader Stuart Gregory

The Winner of the winning 2012 Fujitsu Essay Prizes


Reflecting on his first 100 days in office, the Defence Secretary the Rt Hon Phillip Hammond said: “The vital role that the civilian part of Defence plays is not always understood, or recognised. Believe me, as a politician, I know how frustrating it can be to constantly have your motives questioned and your contribution undermined in the media…Over the last 100 days I have emphasised – and will continue to emphasise – that Defence is made up of three parts: the Armed Forces, the civilians who support them and our defence contractors – together the ‘Whole Force’ which is the basis of our future planning.”1

However, it could be argued that the media are not alone in undervaluing the role that civilians and contractors play in both Defence Support and the enabling of operational capability. This paper will examine the effectiveness of the current model that employs civilians and contractors alongside the military and the mechanisms available to us to improve the exchange of information and sharing of talent with business. It discusses the significance of trust between the military and Industry and whether prejudices will prevent the realisation of truly integrated force components. The onus on leadership and the nexus within the military-Industry relationship are debated and a ‘New Deal’ pact introduced that proposes fresh career opportunities within both institutions, better access privileges to Operational Theatres for contractor resources and a strengthening of the bonds of trust that are essential for the assured delivery of the Total Support Force (TSF).

The Context

The combination of regular military personnel working alongside civilians near or in combat zones pre-dates modern warfare. Indeed, the western militaries self maintaining and sustaining philosophy could be seen to be a unique feature of post-Napoleonic armies.2 Vaknin views the return to integrated regular and irregular force components as a failure of the self-sustaining concept,3 a model which could be argued to still find favour as a result of centuries of military conservatism and doctrinal dependency on the military fortress to protect against state on state aggression.4 With affordability now a key driver for the future force structure5, it is directed that the model of the TSF is to: “Provide a fully integrated and sustainable military (Regular and Reserve), Civil Service and contractor support force End to End, in which the characteristics and strengths of each are optimised to deliver Defence Support in the Firm Base.”6

Here the Firm Base is defined as the “UK Home Base and all fixed overseas locations (outside of operational deployments)”7 and has a central importance to the TSF model as the location where contractors access military resource, each collaborates on support and then projects forward to meet contingency demands8. According to military doctrine an association with a unit is fundamental to force component spirit and effectiveness9; thus the success of TSF could be argued to be dependent on the success of integrating TSF partners into the Firm Base.

A Model of Integration?

Once limited to logistic support, contractors now deliver services to and within the Operational Theatres in a broad range of functions, themed as Contractor Support to Operations (CSO).10 A military-Industry review found that “although the MOD is heavily dependent on CSO, in general contractors continue to augment rather than replace core military capability, albeit in a frequently ad hoc manner.”11 The causes are arguably varied, from the deeply-rooted culture of self-sustainment to the MOD choosing not to deploy the military capability, preferring a contracted solution but as a result paying twice for the same service.12 This duplication is then further reflected as allies c

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