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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has striven in recent years to become more business-like in the manner in which it choreographs and exercises the various components of defence. Yet the MoD has an observable tendency to underestimate the complexity and importance of its supply base and thus to live with the risks and uncertainties that remain unidentified and not properly assessed. The Whole Force approach has not addressed this issue; indeed, its early focus on personnel policies and management, at the expense of other considerations, has exacerbated this situation.
Based on an analysis of the MoD as both consumer and producer, and drawing on the literature relating to supply-base management and resilience, this paper makes the case that the Whole Force approach needs to develop into more overt portfolio management of the entire defence extended enterprise (DEE). It suggests that the MoD has to properly understand the composition of the UK DEE; consider how it should be managed, assured and refreshed; and develop risk and resilience policies and practices relating to it.