Saturday, 23 October 2021
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defence sector

By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, UK Defence Forum

Back in February I decided to relauch one of Viewpoints lesser known sister publications. National Defence Industry Extra (NatDefIndEx)áaims to provide news and analysis of developments from the global defence sector.

Since then, the blog has gone from strength to strength. Articles have covered the re-emergence of Poland's defence sector, Israeli defence-industrial strategies and Dassault's continuing efforts to find an overseas buyer for the Rafale. NatDefIndEx has even published articles from as far away as India and Kuwait.

I am currently on the look-out for more articles. As with Viewpoints, articles need to be between 300 and 1,500 words in length onádefence-industrial issue of your choice. As I have recently steered NatDefIndEx more towards overseas markets I would particularly welcome articles covering the British defence sector.

Articles can be submitted to . And follow me on Twitter at NatDefIndExá.


By Lukas Milevski

What is, and is not, unthinkable in defence and security depends upon the culture of the group doing the thinking. Culture is a web of narrative threads on issues, topics and themes relevant to a particular group. In terms of defence and security these narratives concern history, geography, the roles of force and law in society, and so on. Indeed, behaviour generally cannot be isolated from the culture of the acting group without making that behaviour random and meaningless. It is culture that gives meaning to thought and action. Culture is therefore in practice the sovereign context in which not just thinking and judgment take place, but also decision-making and doing. No analyst or decision-maker is autonomous of culture.

In practice, no state is a unitary political or strategic actor. A government is made up of a number of different ministries, occasionally conflicting, each with its own culture, and thus its own priorities, value judgments and methods of decision-making. At lower levels of granularity still, each ministry is itself comprised of discrete offices, each again with its own culture, occasionally conflicting with others, and so on. The holistic strategic culture of a state is therefore essentially an amalgam of a myriad of different tribal mentalities and cultures with the admixture of a sense of greater purpose not typically found within a single tribe itself. This does not just complicate decision-making, but also complicates the lesser task of consensus, due to the inevitable conflicts which will spring up in both discussion and action.

Within this context, friction is inevitable within a strategic culture among the various tribes of the defence and security community. Cracks appear in the fašade and cannot be papered over, because disagreements are significant and the respective positions are too far apart to be reconciled among the various defence tribes. Such cracks represent issues dear to one or more of these tribes. These cracks thus represent 'unthinkables,' or issues for which certain outcomes are unthinkable for certain tribes.

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