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5 Priorities of the new British Chief of Defence

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Tony Radakin, who served as First Sea Lord of the UK Royal Navy and Naval Service from June 2019 to November 2021, was appointed Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 30 November 2021.

During his first speech at the Royal United Service Institute in London, the new Military Chief presented five priorities to be addressed in his new mandate to return the State to a central position on the international scene.

The first priority is delivering the Integrated Government Review, introduced in March 2021, to bring about clear changes in the command document and budget specifications. This means greater clarity, as opposed to the recent priority project proposed by the Department, which contained 118 of these proposals.

The second priority relates to the fact that “defence structures, processes, and pace are too large, too hierarchical, and too ponderous” for the threats Britain faces, and consequently, too slow and resistant to change. Therefore, the proposal is for greater integration between a central office and other smaller support organisations. This would lead to victories thanks in part to new alliances and the new type of combat provided by new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, digitisation, automation, and cyber.

The third key priority for Radakin is to have a greater military presence in deployments both at home and abroad. The penultimate point on the agenda is to achieve greater lethality for front-line commands, reiterating that the goal is to “provide the right military tool, in the right place, at the right time, for as long as it takes to complete a task”. The answer will not be to increase personnel or spending but improve skills.

As a final priority, the Military Chief touched on the issues of people and culture, namely bringing improvements on the personnel front to best represent the changing needs of society. To this point, he also added the need for greater integration of women and minorities serving in the armed forces, whose percentage is now 11% and 9.2%, respectively.

Radakin concluded his speech by saying it was a “pivotal time for Defence. We are returning to a more classical model of persistent inter-state competition. We have the clarity, ambition, and increased resources of government, despite a pandemic. And we have an obligation to fulfil that ambition in the pursuit of British national interests, with allies and partners who also share those values and aspirations.”


Chuter, A., New British military chief unveils agenda centered on reforms. December 8, 2021. DefenceNews


Written by Carlotta Viaggio