Look before you leap — Part I

Setting the scene.

Why do we need defence? Let us start with Government.

Belonging and success.

Societies have norms of behaviour — a combination of principles of operating (or heuristics) with the beliefs (or values) of that society. But having those norms is not enough. As with all collectives, a society must be successful in spreading or at least maintaining its norms. A church which no-one shares the beliefs of is a page from the book of history — see Norse mythology, Roman Gods etc.


On the map we have several pipelines (those rectangular blocks). Whilst most of a map represents statements of logical AND such as this needs this AND that. A pipeline represents a non exclusive OR. For example, trust consists of many components which share a common meaning of “trust”. This includes integrity (I trust you to do what you say), benevolence (I trust you to work for my benefit) and competence (I trust you have the skill). You can choose to be competent but lack benevolence or integrity, you can choose to have all these components or you can choose to be weak at all. The level of trust will depend upon how much of each you invoke.


Moving down the map, we can now flesh out the concepts of sovereignty. Typically we think of this as territorial sovereignty (i.e. protecting our land) but as I mentioned above there are many elements to sovereignty — protecting our culture, our political systems, our economy and even our technology (i.e. digital). For a Government to have legitimacy it requires control over the political system rather than being appointed by someone else. If it is a puppet then the others are exerting their legitimacy to determine how the political system works. The “real” legitimacy is enforced from elsewhere.


Sovereignty applies to a theatre. For example physical sovereignty applies to land, sea, air and space. Digital sovereignty applies to the area of cyber including technology and social media. Culture applies to the theatre of art. These theatres are where we compete with others. Remember, competition is simply the act of seeking with others and there are many forms of competition including conflict (fighting others), co-operation (helping others) and collaboration (working with others).

Landscapes (Territory)

These theatres apply to landscapes. The one we are most familiar is concerned with physical sovereignty i.e. our land, our borders, our territory. Of course, territory itself varies a lot i.e. France is not UK which is not Germany. Understanding your landscape and the elements within it (situational awareness of the physical landscape) is critically important. If you don’t know where your resources are or where an attacker is or the type of land then you will be at a severe disadvantage. Sending tanks to defend against an invader might sound sensible but quickly degenerates into farce when you discover that the land you’ve sent the tanks to is a swamp, the invader has significantly more numbers and they’re not even at the swamp you’ve sent the tanks to.

Landscapes (Supply chain)

Whilst some of our theatres operate over landscapes we are familiar with, not all of them do. For example economic and cyber theatres and elements of CNI operate over supply chains. Even our capabilities are built on supply chains.

A note to the future

Across these theatres, our ability to defend ourselves and others (whether from shocks or conflict) and our ability to effectively co-operate and collaborate with others depends upon our awareness of these landscapes. Supply chain attacks across software, across physical goods, across CNI, across our political systems (in a future of AI generated video content when you can’t tell whether the person speaking to you is real or not), across our cultural systems (the use of radicalisation, the alteration of history) will become more common over time. Kinetic warfare (throwing deadly stuff at others) is expensive and opponents will look for asymmetric advantages.

A final note

I’m hoping that in the future we embrace a concept of defence far beyond land, sea, air, space and cyber which is built upon the ideas of situational awareness of not just territory but the landscape of supply chains.



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I like ducks, they're fowl but not through choice. RT is not an endorsement but a sign that I find a particular subject worthy of challenge and discussion.