The Defence Academy sharpens the intellectual edge with new multi-domain module

As the modern battlespace becomes ever more complex, the nature of the threats the UK faces means that no single service, government department or single nation can prevail on their own. The UK’s response to this growing geopolitical complexity is Multi-Domain Integration (MDI), which aims to ensure that every part of defence can seamlessly work together – as well as with other government departments and the UK’s allies – to deliver the desired outcome.

To be successful, MDI requires significant changes in attitudes and mindsets across defence and wider government. And the Defence Academy, through its expertise in providing world-leading professional defence and security education (PDSE), is contributing to this change by continuously developing and adapting its courses, ensuring it is at the cutting edge of military thinking in a changing world. As part of this continuous development, the Defence Academy, through the Joint Services Command and Staff College, has introduced a pilot MDI module to the current Advanced Command and Staff Course (ACSC).

A gold statue of 3 cormorant birds inside a forum filled with multiple handing flags from around the world.

The ACSC MDI module seeks to develop course members’ intellectual appreciation of some of the major issues facing defence in the multi-domain context, building their confidence in using innovative, creative and critical thinking while questioning accepted and traditional views.

The module started on 30 May and features a five-week research ‘sprint’ in which the 263 course members – including 109 from overseas – will work in syndicate groups to analyse a series of challenging and complex questions that have been endorsed by the Deputy Commander UKStratCom. UKStratCom, as defence’s integrator, leads on implementing MDI through its Multi-Domain Change Programme.

A venn-style diagram explaining integration across government, domains and allies.

Syndicates will be looking at questions such as:

  • ‘How could Command and Control in the information age be conducted differently?’
  • ‘What can we learn from the crisis in Ukraine and how do our adversaries perceive a NATO response in an MDI/MDO context?’
  • ‘How can we promote a more integrated culture across all government departments?’

Course members will conduct the research sprint under the guidance of academics from King's College London’s Defence Studies Department, MOD personnel and industry mentors. Syndicates will present their findings and novel solutions to the set questions at a UKStratCom-partnered MDI Symposium at the Defence Academy on 23 June, attended by senior military officers and industry guests.

The MDI module includes several elements to help broaden the course members’ understanding of multi-domain integration and operations while engaging with the questions in a compelling manner. These include:

  • a Future Operating Environment (FOE) lecture series, covering topics such as future war, Russian strategy and drivers of future conflict
  • defence industry site visits
  • a ‘useful fiction’ workshop, where novels are used to highlight the importance of compelling narrative in strategy development

A satellite in space, a solider wearing a VR headset, a submarine, a tank and a pilot inside an aircraft. Brigadier Matt Jackson, Director JSCSC, said:

“The ACSC MDI module demonstrates the ability of the Defence Academy to offer innovative solutions to the most pressing contemporary problems. Drawing on UK MOD doctrine and concepts, the module will enhance the course members’ intellectual appreciation of the major issues facing defence, government and our allies in the multi-domain context.

“We hope this module will develop disruptive thinkers who can help to bring about the cultural change that MDI requires.”