15 August 2020

Evidence submitted by ORG to the House of Commons Defence Committee’s inquiry on the Integrated Review has been included in their final report, entitled ‘In Search of Strategy – The 2020 Integrated Review’

The written evidence was co-authored by Megan Karlshoej-Pedersen and Liam Walpole. It was taken from ORG's November 2019 report, 'Fusion Doctrine in Five Steps: Lessons Learned from Remote Warfare in Africa' which had been jointly authored by Megan and ORG's Research Manager, Abigail Watson. It also served as a precursor to a separate piece of work being undertaken by ORG regarding the UK's policy on the protection of civilians in conflict, ‘ Forging A New Path: Pritoristing the Protection of Civilians in the UK’s Reponse to Conflict’, which was published at the end of July 2020. 

The final report by the Defence Committee draws on our research to call for greater transparency and accountability, develop a truly whole of government approach, work with international partners and be realistic about how long all of this will take, in the following quotes:

In their written evidence, the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Warfare Programme stressed that lessons should be learned from the time that it has taken for the UK’s international partners to conduct similar Reviews. Informed by consultation with those involved in Canada’s 2015 Review, the Group noted those involved in this process felt that the outcome of public consultation “had not been effectively incorporated as a direct result of excessive time pressure.” The evidence suggests that the fact that the Canadian Review was carried out over 12 months “should serve as a clear warning to the Government that it is likely to struggle to incorporate external expertise into the Review based on the proposed timelines.”16

The Oxford Research Group note that the Fusion Doctrine introduced as part of the 2018 National Security Capability Review (NCSR) was the most recent initiative to encourage a cross-Government approach to security, defence, development and foreign policy.28


A related point was made by the Remote Warfare Programme of the Oxford Research Group, which discussed the UK’s approach to partnered military operations in detail. Their evidence suggests that the Review is an opportunity to consider the strategic effectiveness of the UK’s approach to partnered military operations:

It must ensure it is not duplicating the efforts of other international actors; and that it is filling actual gaps in the international effort, and is matching UK capabilities to the weaknesses and shortfalls partners have actively identified.75


Additional written evidence from the Oxford Research Group’s Remote Warfare Programme notes that, to be effective, external engagement and consultation in the Review process must include “must fresh perspectives from outside of Whitehall” and be carried out over a long period of time. The ORG warned us that:

[The UK Government] seems content with international and local civil society organizations echoing their buzzwords and priorities, or offering technical ideas on ‘best practices.’ Civil society organizations that want to be included in higherlevel discussions often feel they are supposed to leave critical perspectives […] at home. This kind of echo chamber does not lend itself to improved security interventions, but to groupthink where the same flawed approaches persist despite their clear faults.169