Wilton Park and The Alphen Group jointly organised a dialogue on Future War and Deterrence, aimed at assessing what deterrence of state-on-state conflict will require in a horizon of 2035, and if need be, fighting and winning a major war. The period between 2022 and 2035 is roughly one defence planning cycle.
The event brought together leaders, experts, analysts and commentators from public policy and politics, the armed forces, the private sector, and from technology and innovation. Participants came from across NATO and EU membership as well as from key Asian allies.
Lessons from the Ukraine war as well as Chinese military exercises in the Taiwan Strait were examined on the conference’s opening afternoon. A conclusion with regard to the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2024 was that deterrence had not failed; rather there was simply no real attempt to apply it.
The entire second day of the conference was devoted to discussions in six working groups meeting in parallel; on affordability and resilience, future force, policy, industry and innovation, strategy, and technology. A more agile, adaptable defence industrial base constitutes a key enabling foundation to deliver many of the goals elaborated in the other groups.
Military advantage will go to countries/alliances that more effectively integrate new technology rather than just developing it. In this regard, the character of relationships between political and military leaders will become even more important than they are today in a context of more rapid, AI enabled decision-making.
A conference highlight was the appearance via hologram of NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General Philippe Lavigne.