Strategic Trends provides a measure of context and coherence in an
uncertain predictive area characterized by risk, ambiguity and change.
The DCDC approach goes beyond identifying the potential future military threats to which
our Armed Forces will have to respond, and looks at the developments in areas that will
shape the wider strategic context within which Defence will have to interact. For example,
the Study addresses subjects such as: access to resources, the evolving international
system and developments in Society.
Defence decisions about how to act and react in relation to these issues are considered
over time, with an appropriate balance of judgement and risk, and take time to form and
implement. This is entirely proper because the consequences of these decisions tend to
endure for some time. Weapon systems and platforms can take more than 15 years to
design and acquire and may be retained in service for 20 – 30 years (some may in future
run for up to 50 years). Other significant examples include the development of long-term
Defence relationships, post conflict peace-building and sustaining the long-term personnel
requirements of the Armed Forces. In addition, in terms of value for money and strategic
resilience, Defence has to make a prudent assessment of those capabilities the Armed
Forces will need to sustain a consistently credible military posture over time, while
allowing some flexibility for the unexpected, and for rapid change.
One of the strengths of the Strategic Trends assessment is its independence from
routine staffing and wider Defence decision-making. This helps to ensure its objectivity,
intellectual rigour and freedom from accusations of compromise, lobby-group pressure or
partiality. Consequently, Strategic Trends is able to inform Defence decisions, without
being constrained by the latest good idea, fashionable trend or received wisdom. Some of
the findings in Strategic Trends will, therefore, challenge views which derive from
existing or transient circumstances, rather than from long-wave trends and from the
enduring features of the strategic context.