New Research on Army Future Reserves 2020 by Dr Sergio Catignani, SSI and Dr Victoria Basham, Cardiff University 

Progress has been made in implementing the Army's Future Reserves 2020 reform programme, but more must be done if reservists are to be used effectively to fulfil the nation's defence objectives, according to the preliminary results of a new study.

New research from Dr Catignani and Dr Basham highlights the potential challenges of meeting the targets and also opportunities for the Army Future Reserves 2020. Their emerging findings suggest that if all Reservists are to feel 'valued and valuable' further changes are still necessary.  Please follow the link for further information.


The Spectator Magazine 18th July 2016 - Publication by Dr David Blagden: Eleven Criticisms that will be levelled against Trident today.


Dr Sergio Catignani hosts “Veterans in Transition” workshop

Dr Sergio Catignani, SSI Senior Lecturer in Security & Strategic Studies, hosted a two-day workshop (17-18 March 2016) at the SSI, titled “Veterans in Transition”, in which academic and research support colleagues from the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences (University of Massachusetts – Boston), the Veterans and Families Institute (Anglia Ruskin University) and members of the University of Exeter Politics Department met to discuss veterans’ and veteran family members’ experiences in transitioning from military service to civilian life. Mental health issues borne out of veterans’ combat experiences as well as the support that veteran support that charities and community interest companies provide in order to facilitate transition and recovery from mental health issues were also explored. A local community interest group, The Farm-Able Project, which aims to increase the health and wellbeing of participants by offering opportunities to work with land, also attended the workshop.

Strategy and Security experts address the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy

SSI continues to inform UK security debate. On 14 March 2016, Professor Patrick Porter appeared before the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. Both he and Dr David Blagden also submitted written evidence. Both written submissions, the transcript and the video of the hearing can be found here:

Strategy and Security experts address Select Committee over Defence Review

Professor Patrick Porter and Dr David Blagden, addressed the committee members about details announced in the SDSR - the government's foremost document on defence strategy. Read more.

View a recording of the meeting.

Strategy and Security Institute Submission to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee 

In response to the Defence Committee's call for written evidence, we have submitted three papers. Each paper 'stands alone' but together they represent a set of observations about the nature of the threats facing UK and Government's capacity to anticipate and deal with them.

Sir Paul Newton uses MOD as a case study to illustrate a lack of capacity - and inclination - in HMG to 'think the unthinkable'. In paragraphs 14-19 he suggests practical, proven steps that could be taken (including by the Defence Committee) to weigh threats, test them against UK's ability to respond, and so plan more effectively.

Prof Patrick Porter notes that the UK faces a deteriorating security environment. A complex mix of revolution, geopolitics and war could produce a simultaneous set of problems in forms that are hard to foresee, beyond the capacity of its overstretched resources. 

Dr David Blagden observes that key changes in Britain’s threat environment owe to the ongoing return of major power competition and conflict to the international system. He suggests improvements in UK threat assessment processes to better handle such an emerging threat landscape.

Read the full submission.

SSI hosts high-level workshop on legal aspects of 'Hybrid Warfare'

The event, convened in collaboration with the NATO Office of Legal Affairs and the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, brought together senior legal advisors and experts from across the UK and NATO for a two-day seminar, held in Exeter. Read more.

SSI accepted into Niteworks, MoD's research and consultancy network

SSI Director Sir Paul Newton, is delighted to announce that SSI has been accepted into the MOD's research and consultancy network 'Niteworks'. This will enable SSI and the University more widely to make a tangible impact on UK and International defence and security thinking. For more information on Niteworks, refer to the document Practical, Impartial Responses to Complex Defence Problems

Strategic Defence and Security Review Team Visit Exeter

"The first duty of any government is the security of its population. So it was with considerable relish that the Strategy and Security Institute (SSI) hosted a workshop for senior members of the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Defence staffs, at its Knightley base. The day was an opportunity to explore the challenges that confront the authors of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR15), which is due to be published later this year. Chaired by SSI Director Sir Paul Newton, the theme was 'relevant UK hard power' with academics and members of SSI's honorary network flagging the questions the on-going SDSR must address, and suggesting possible solutions - in line with SSI's remit to engage in applied strategy not mere commentary.

Paul Newton's briefing was on the need to enhance the evidence base on which structural and budgetary decisions about military capability are based, drawing upon his experience, including with the US military and from his participation in SDSR10. A paper from Prof Patrick Porter on 'marrying force with diplomacy' argued for a re-invigoration and resource re-balancing in favour of UK's Diplomatic Corps. This was complemented by Dr Andrew Rathmell's briefing; his insights on 'the whole of government effort overseas' drew upon his wide-ranging experience in Whitehall, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and more recently, Tunisia where he works on building local governance capacity. Honorary SSI Fellow Maj Gen (retd) Kevin Abraham reflected on the achievements and some missed opportunities in SDSR10, and in particular, the need for more rigorous follow-up of policy decision to ensure they result in coherent action. Academics from the GW4 (Bath, Bristol and Cardiff) joined their Exeter and other colleagues for a fascinating and (hopefully) useful policy-informing day.

Prof Mark Goodwin, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, welcomed the Whitehall group to Exeter. He noted that the opportunity to contribute to the strategic analysis that will help set the policies and priorities for the Nation's security for the next five years and beyond, was exactly the sort of impact the University had envisaged when it established SSI.”

Reservists: Your country needs your employees

Dr Sergio Catignani, Senior Lecturer in Security and Strategic Studies along with Dr Victoria Basham were quoted on the article Reservists: Your country needs your employees published on 18th June 2015 by CIPD. The two academics are working on an ESRC/MoD-commissioned research project entitled Sustaining Future Reserves 2020, specifically examining the pressures of service on the home and work lives of reservists.


In April 2015 students from the Security Strategy Institute represented the University of Exeter at an international cyber policy conference hosted by NATO and the Atlantic Council in Geneva. MStrat students Ari Basen, Jonathan Alvis, and Rory Stewart were tasked to develop and present policy options to address a hypothetical nation-state sponsored cyber-attack against a NATO member state. The students actively applied the oral and written policy briefing skills developed throughout the MStrat course to advise senior policy makers from NATO, the EU, and various global internet security firms.

This was a tremendous opportunity for all of us to showcase our skills on such an international stage,” said Ari Basen, the SSI Cyber Team Coordinator. “The MStrat course prepared us brilliantly for this competition by having us develop MINSUBs [Ministerial Submissions] and oral briefs on a wide range of issues from combating ISIS to next generation UCAV procurement considerations.” View more.

The Global Village Myth: War, and the Limits of Power

Professor Patrick Porter has presented his recently published book The Global Village Myth: War, and the Limits of Power at CATO Institute in Washington DC. 

According to Washington elites, revolutions in information, transport, and weapons technologies have shrunk the world, leaving the United States and its allies more vulnerable than ever to violent threats like terrorism or cyberwar. As a result, they practice responses driven by fear: theories of falling dominoes, hysteria in place of sober debate, and an embrace of pre-emptive war to tame a chaotic world. Patrick Porter pushes back against the decades-old globalist fad, arguing that technology has not overcome distance, and that the world has changed less than threat inflators suggest. He concludes by noting the disastrous policies the globalists have produced and by pointing the way toward a more sensible and restrained strategy.

Download the video of this event.

Download a podcast of this event.


Further Investment in SSI: News of Staff Changes

We are delighted to announce that Professor Patrick Porter has assumed the role of Chair in Strategic Studies.  Patrick is the author of the critically acclaimed ‘Military Orientalism: Eastern War Through Western Eyes’.  He knows SSI well having spoken on our courses in Knightley on a number of occasions. Professor Porter shares his initial thoughts on his arrival at SSI.

Congratulations to Professor Paul Cornish on his appointment with RAND Europe in Cambridge.  Paul played a key role in the establishment of SSI and a critically important role in designing the MStrat and then turning the concept into a proven, unique programme.  We look forward to welcoming him back as a visiting speaker.

With two members of the SSI core team being recent recipients of major Research Council grants (Drs Sergio Catignani and Catarina Thomson) we are in also the process of appointing a additional Lecturer and will take this opportunity to reinforce our core strength in strategic and war studies.

Finally, SSI welcomes Dr Jamie Shea, NATO’s current Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, as a member of our small core team. Jamie brings a wealth of experience of applied strategy; a senior member of the NATO staff he offers a unique perspective on contemporary security challenges.

SSI academics and our extended network regularly publish books and articles which directly impact upon policy. Read more about these articles and books here.

SSI staff are routinely engaged in Whitehall-based activities or external conferences; details of this kind of activity and engagement can be found here.

We have a vibrant, collaborative and interdisciplinary research culture and our international community of researchers and practitioners has an excellent record of winning external funding and promoting collaboration and impact. Grant news can be found here.