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Hosted by RUSI, in conjunction with the Army Staff, it provides a platform for informed debate on current British Army themes, both institutionally at home and operationally overseas, as well as engagement with international counterparts on their equivalent issues, and the opportunity to host valued allies and private sector partners.
Last year’s conference saw over seven-hundred delegates from more than forty nations, attending fifteen sessions, from small breakout workshops to keynote speeches by the Secretary of State for Defence and Chief of the General Staff, with a panel of thirty-five speakers discussing subjects as diverse as ‘Maximising Operational Productivity’ and ‘Applying Land Power Through Integrated Action’.
The theme for this year's conference is 'adaptability’, reflecting the range of challenges confronting land forces in an age that is increasingly characterised by constant competition and unpredictability. The British Army is at its smallest for two centuries, but the breadth of tasks assigned to it has never been wider.
In the near term, countering terrorism overseas is the strategic priority, but this is overlaid with increased demands for international defence engagement and the assurance of national resilience at home. Meanwhile, in the longer term, SDSR15 has set a demanding trajectory for restoring the UK's capability to conduct warfighting at scale, principally to provide credible conventional deterrence.
Meeting these divergent demands with still-limited resources will require the Army to be innovative, agile and flexible, or in a single word 'adaptable’. This year’s conference will, therefore, examine what adaptability means in practical terms, addressing such things as the structures, equipment sets, personnel management and – perhaps above all else – mindsets, necessary to generate a genuinely flexible thinking and acting Army.
This 'adaptability challenge’ is common to many of our allied and partner nations, as well as to wider government and business, and the programme will reflect this with contributions from across the international land forces community and beyond.