20 May 2020 – CHACR Weekly Take Away Newsletter: Issue 9

This is the ninth issue of the weekly CHACR Take Away newsletter.  In these newsletters, you will find links to the latest products by the CHACR, but also links to key reports and studies by external experts and institutions which we think you should pay attention to.

A Word from the Director                                                                              

Every leader in the Army, from lance-corporal upwards, is familiar with the idea of conducting an ‘estimate’. It may be quick or deliberate, it may be under the weighty and immediate pressure of combat, or it may be at a stately and considered pace in Whitehall. We are taught that, to do this effectively, we need to take a step back from the pressing demands of the immediate surroundings (to take a ‘condor moment’). The first steps of that process, regardless of whether it is hasty or deliberate, urgent or measured, micro-tactical or grand-strategic, are always to gather as much information as one can about everything and anything that may be relevant, pause to consider each piece of information, and then ask oneself ’so what’? In other words, it’s about data gathering, data management, data analysis and then, vitally, understanding the relevance of that data in order to understand context and then frame and set out choices for action. We all know that the more that we know about these ‘factors’ the more likely we are to make well-informed and thus sound choices. In war, we put enormous effort into collecting and processing useful data on all sorts of things: ground, going, the enemy, the civilian population, etc, even when (indeed, particularly when) that data is denied to us, or hidden from us, or deliberately dressed up to confuse us (as it inevitably will be if the factor that we are considering is, for example, ’the enemy’). In war or on operations the Army is pretty good at working out what it needs to know about. How good is the Army at working out what it needs to know about when not on operations? How good is the Army at collecting and using data? What does it collect data on? How does it process that data to make it useful? I hope that, here at the CHACR, we have sufficient step-back thinking-space to help by offering the Army a few ‘factors’ and even providing the occasional ’so what’!
Maj Gen (Ret) Dr Andrew Sharpe