Military Learning in the 21st Century


Military learning is a hot topic. It comes in many different guises: ‘conceptual development’, ‘the intellectual edge’, ‘strategic adaptability’, or ‘innovative by design.’ Yet behind the buzzwords and the dogma, what do we really mean when talk about learning in a military context? And how can we do it more effectively, without sacrificing core areas of enduring strength?

These questions have prompted an explosion of interest over the past several years. New resources like The ForgeThe CoveGrounded Curiosity, War Room, The Case Method, and many, many more now allow us to share information and ideas more freely than ever before. These have seen a series of lively debatesdevelop over how best to support military learning and innovation, and the areas in which we should focus greater attention when it comes to formal military education.

In the interests of continuing to debate this important question, Defence in Depth and the Wavell Room are joining forces to run a series of posts exploring the topic of military learning from a range of different perspectives. We’ll hear from current and former members of the armed forces from all three services, some from inside military education and some from without. We’ll also gain a range of academic perspectives, both on the history of how armed forces have sought to gain an intellectual edge, and on military learning today. Taken together, these posts underline the vital importance of viewing education as a central aspect of military service, and to prioritise its importance in order to meet the unpredictable challenges of the twenty-first century. Keep an eye out for posts on both pages, and let us know what you think in the comments sections and on Twitter with the hashtag #militarylearning. We’re still open to new entries, so if you’d like to contribute, please get in touch with us directly.

Image via Pixabay.

6 thoughts on “Military Learning in the 21st Century

    1. Peter, How about collecting a selection of biographies, memoirs from mbrs of all 3 armed Services to compare & contrast? First volume which comes to mind is “The Science of War,” by Col.G.F.R. Henderson, CB, a collection of essays & lectures from 1891-1903, for instance. The work, edited by Col. Neill Malcolm, DSO (Argyll’s) has a memoir of the author by F.M. Earl Roberts, VC. Point being to analyse adaptions to technological change, and to increasing elements of asymmetric warfare with individuals’ opinions of colleague’s reactions and to outside world, Georgina.


  1. Nothing, absolutely nothing can better first-hand accounts from veterans of specific conflicts – providing in confidence if necessary, accurate pictures of organisation, supply, numbers, and effect of political decision-making on outcomes. This comment arises from 40 yrs of observation military education.


  2. Peter, How about gathering a collection of memoirs, biographies by/of naval,military & airforce individuals and not being leery of going back quite a long way (cf “The Science of War,” Col. G.F.R.Henderson, CB, London 1933, collection of essays & lectures twixt 1891-1903)? Analysing adaptations to technological innovation and asymmetrical warfare – and extrapolating findings to current conditions and demands, Georgina


    1. I agree, but we would need render each homogenous such that comparisons, divergences, evolutions and (non)adherence to principles be apparent. Possibly an argumentation model would be useful.


      1. Interesting approach – all devolves on discriminating between different perceptions of problems and of what problems might have been, wouldn’t you think? Social context & attitudes important background- don’t forget experience of the great Railway Engineer Bloch, and his forecast of stasis in the 1914-18 trenches which he garnered through his observations of “automated” rifle fire, and so on. Detested ever after by Cavalrymen. (This another subject in itself.)


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