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The impact of the war in Ukraine on Britain’s Armed Forces

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine has provided a view of the future of warfare and modified the strategic balance on NATO’s eastern flank. The British Armed Forces must plan for a new strategic situation, in which Russia, despite retaining residual conventional strength, hybrid tools, and a relevant nuclear arsenal, is no longer capable of challenging the UK and NATO directly.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine War has called into question a variety of traditional weapons systems, ranging from tanks to strike aircraft and large, ageing warships, while demonstrating the value of a nimble, distributed force, complete with small and large drones, networked sensors, long-range artillery, and mobile air defences. These lessons will reverberate far beyond Europe, and impact the strategies and force structures of every major power, including those of other major competitors, most critically China. We will discuss these strategic and technical issues, and their impact upon British military force structure and future development.


Speakers include:

• UDSS member Air Marshal Ed Stringer (RAF, Retired) (chair) served for four decades in the RAF, most notably Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Operations), Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Director General of the Defence Academy, and Director of Force Development at Joint Forces Command. He is also a Senior Fellow at Policy Exchange, and a regular commentator on defence issues in national and international media.

• Nick Chaffey is Northrop Grumman’s Chief Executive, for the UK, Europe, and the Middle East, having joined the company in 2018. He has decades of experience in public-private defence relations. • Rt Hon Luke Pollard is Shadow Minister for the Armed Forces, having held this role since February 2022. He has served as MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport since 2017. Mr Pollard has held multiple Shadow Cabinet positions since 2018. He has been a consistent advocate for UK defence throughout his time in parliament and has been particularly outspoken on the Ukraine War.

• UDSS DirectorAir Marshal Philip Osborn (RAF, Retired) served for four decades in the RAF. He commanded No. 2 Group, the RAF’s Combat Support formation, served as Chief of Staff (Operations and Support) at RAF Command, and most notably as Chief of Defence Intelligence from 2015 to 2018. He is now chairman of the RAF charitable trust and works throughout the defence industry.

• Sally Walker (virtual participant) has 25 years of experience in National Security. She served as Director Cyber at GCHQ, where from 2016 she both ran the National Offensive Cyber Programme and spearheaded the cross-governmental National Cyber Force. She is a graduate of the UK Defence Academy’s Higher Command and Staff Course, and supported UK operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. • Peymana Assad is co-chair of the Labour Foreign Policy Group and a Labour councillor in the London Borough of Harrow. She is the first individual of Afghan origin to serve in public office in the UK.