Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Chief of the Defence Staff Reading List

On the day when the new Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) was announced as being Gen Houghton, Humphrey was delighted to be sent a link to a newly established website called ‘Chief of the Defence Staff Recommended Reading’.

Hosted at the Defence Academy website, the site is a chance for current members of the Armed Forces and MOD Civil Service to flag up particularly noteworthy books for further scrutiny. Designed to ensure that current generations of Staff Officers are able to remain informed of current books is extremely important, and Humphrey genuinely hopes the website flourishes over time. There is, to the authors mind at least, a reluctance in the UK military ethos to widely embrace the culture of academic study. It is sometimes seen as being far too keen, or far too geeky, and the study of military profession and current events is perhaps not taken as seriously as it should be in some quarters. The author remember sharing a room on an operational tour with a relatively junior US Officer who had shelves full of very heavy academic treatise on military history, theory and developments - he explained that even though deployed, he was studying for an MA to help him as part of his professional advancement, and that in the US system, he stood little realistic chance of promotion if he didn’t study hard.

While there are individual pockets of people who do take this sort of study seriously, it is perhaps frustrating that, in the authors experience at least, all too often there is scepticism attached to anyone who reads ‘serious books’ and people are reluctant to read and share their thoughts on them openly. Hopefully the establishment of the new site provides a genuine opportunity for the defence community to become more aware of recommended titles, and take the chance to read them as part of their ongoing professional development.

The site will be permanently linked here, but can be found at the following URL: http://www.da.mod.uk/da-news/the-chief-of-defence-staff-s-reading-list. It is also worth more broadly exploring the site, which contains links to many podcasts (http://www.da.mod.uk/podcasts) and many other publications as well - http://www.da.mod.uk/publications/library




  1. It's a good list. I'll resist the tempation to suggest other items to add to it; that way madness lies! But I was glad to see it has a leavening of the classic works among the more recent material. In particular I was glad to see Slim's Defeat into Victory and Higher Command in War both there, as I've always thought that, like his army, his very considerable merits are far too often forgotten or overlooked. And his views on leadership are refreshingly clear and free from jargon and self-conceit.

  2. Although its great to see a push for intellectual development, (PT is mandatory 3 times a week but we rarely stretch our minds.) In the majority they are humanity based books, unlike the American push for science. There are a number of technical staff appointments at SO2/1 perhaps if we had more of a technically astute officer corp we would be able to make greater use of our CIS as a key enabler rather than just an office automation tool. As well as probably save money that is wasted on flawed assumptions.

    How else will we develop and feed the thirst for technical excellence, with the associated improvement in capability.

  3. Alfred_the_Great20 March 2013 at 10:28

    I would be more impressed if they'd brought copies of the articles in professional journals, so we could all read them....