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THEIA Programme Spearheads UK Army’s Digitalisation Effort

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Written by Johannes Krause

In March 2021, the UK Government published its much-anticipated policy paper “Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy”. The publication of the policy paper resulted in a significant development for the UK Army’s ongoing digitalisation effort, namely the launch of project THEIA. Project THEIA, which is not an acronym but rather a reference to a figure in Greek mythology, seeks to create a change in the Army’s (digital) culture and behaviour.

Currently, the UK Army is transforming itself from a mainly analogue to a predominantly digital organisation. The UK Army hopes to integrate artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and quantum computing into its decision-making processes in the long run. This digitalisation effort intends to create a “digital highway” for data reaching from the individual soldier to the Army’s upper echelons. For the UK Army, digitalisation is crucial as it foresees that future conflicts and the efficient management of a peacetime force will depend on the management of data. The proper data management will allow for accelerated and effective decision-making on and off the battlefield. Crucially, it will also allow for greater levels of interoperability between the UK Army and its allies.

However, as with all large-scale organisations, change does not come easily. As Reservist Brigadier Marc Overton, Chief Solutions Officer for Sierra Wireless, a global leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, puts it: “The Army is just like any other large complex organisation going through a digital transformation. It has legacy systems, process and behaviours that need changing. In my experience, the technology is the easy part, behaviours, skills, and culture often take longer to change […].” This is where project THEIA comes in. THEIA is designed to cohere the already existing army digitalisation projects, streamline them, and institutionalise novel patterns of behaviour that assist in attaining digital skills. The digitalisation effort, in general, and Project THEIA, in particular, are focused on the Army’s “non-operational/business functions” for now. This effort includes projects such as Digital Estate, which is “aimed at improving sustainability and efficiency across the Army’s real-estate”, or Equipment Information Exploitation, which seeks “to enable accurate planning and monitoring of Army fleet maintenance and sustainment.” However, in the long term, the impact on the Army will be more general. As Lieutenant General Chris Tickell, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the British Army, has noted: “operational changes to soldiering are inevitable in the coming 10 years, and these latest technologies will transform some activities almost unrecognisably.


Guest, T. (2022, March 11). British Army Digitalisation and the THEIA Programme. European Security and Defence.