14-17 September 2021, Excel London                       

Land Capability Conference

Land Capability Conference

Land Capability Conference

The Conference

The Land Capability Conference 2019 was delivered in partnership with the British Army on DSEI Day Zero (Monday 9 September) at ExCeL London.

The conference focused on the following topics under the overarching theme of ‘Transforming Land Power to Deliver Competitive Advantage’.

The Future Starts Now - Delivering Decisive Advantage

Centrality of the Land DomainThe British Army Perspective

Operational Advantage - Collaboration with Industry

Secure, Engage Contest and FightCollaboration with Allies and Partners


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Land Capability Conference DSEI 2019

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Comment from Chief of the General Staff  

Comment from Chief of the General Staff  

“The British Army exists to protect the people of Britain, prevent conflict, and to be ready to fight Britain’s enemies. We must therefore be both prepared for the present and fit for the future in a world where change is the status quo. The broadening spectrum and complexity of tasks that confront today’s armies demand clear-sighted strategies in response. Armies must plot a course that enables them to be comfortable operating both above and below the threshold of peer conflict, leveraging all possible sources of strength in pursuit of advantage, while continuously adapting.  Our Army must be able to provide the tools to help our nation contest effectively in the ‘constant competition’ of international strategy.

In response to this challenge, the British Army has recognised the need for a close collaboration with Industry that fosters an exchange of ideas and innovation.  We have described our route to modernisation in the Army Industrial Engagement Framework, the first time this relationship has been formalised in writing. Together we must cultivate novel approaches to fighting, whether it be on the land, in cyberspace, or in the electromagnetic spectrum. A new philosophy of prototype warfare will extend to the battlespace, with deployed operations becoming the ultimate laboratories for innovation. We aim to augment our competitiveness in the medium to long-term by exploring how the effects currently delivered by manned tanks and infantry fighting vehicles can be delivered differently in the 2030s and beyond by leveraging the opportunities afforded by robotics and machine learning. Consequently, in concert with our allies and industry partners, we have begun an ambitious experimentation programme under the working title of Future Land Close Combat. DSEI provides us with the opportunity to share ideas, stimulate innovation and develop the relationships which are so important to our success.”

General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, Chief of the General Staff


Conference Overview

Conference Overview

We do not presume to know the future perfectly; but we strive to understand it sufficiently to continually adapt. We know our adversaries fear our strengths, so we must evolve to fight where they are, not where we wish them to be. We bring land power to bear as part of a wider team, with the other services, our allies and partners - all woven together in a whole of Government approach. We are excited by the opportunities to work more closely with industry, and together accelerate development of new capabilities. The conference started by outlining the trends for the future and how the British Army will respond. More detailed description of how the Army will operate and fight followed; before we moved onto discussing how the Army will work more effectively with allies and partners, especially industry.

The conference aimed to expose the threats at a strategic level before looking toward the more nebulous ‘grey zone’ that is neither war nor peace. The sessions then discussed what we need to operate with our allies and partners. The day concluded with our vision of bi-lateral engagement with industry over the coming decade. It described how both the British Army and the defence industry could work as a coalition during the acquisition process and through more involvement through the life of programmes and beyond.

The British Army's Senior Leadership Team delivered presentations under the following four sub-themes:

Session 1: The Future Starts Now - Delivering Decisive Advantage

The obsession with predicting the future is a very human weakness. But in spite of our unceasing efforts to the contrary, we rarely find anything more than what Peter Hennessy (Distilling the Frenzy, 2012) described as the ‘thin wisps of tomorrow’[cut]. Moreover, a decade after General James Mattis declared that the US military “must avoid being dominant and irrelevant at the same time”, the debate on how to deliver decisive advantage in emergent and novel conflicts is no nearer a conclusion. How do we decide which of Hennessy’s ‘wisps’ will be the most significant, and how do we learn to live with uncertainty in a world where we may only get one chance to get our response right?

Session 2: Centrality of the Land Domain-The British Army Perspective

In today’s global strategic military environment, peer adversaries to western democracies seek advantage in the grey zone, where competition is constant through hybrid means. As such, western allies are now challenged to consider how Land forces demonstrate greater utility in non-war fighting activity as well as keeping their edge in war fighting at scale; this activity stretches across the spectrum of military effect, explained as ‘secure, engage, contest and fight’. As the character of warfare continues to change, we must ensure we keep up by remaining agile and adaptable as we enter a significant technological transition. We must unlock the potential of artificial intelligence, data analytics and machine learning; understand how we conduct command and control of autonomous robotic systems; but most importantly, not lose sight of our unique selling point as practitioners of dismounted close combat.

Session 3: Operational Advantage - Collaboration with Industry

As technology advances rapidly, both Industry and the Army have a challenge to keep up. When this technology is then weaponised by adversaries and applied against our national interest, the threat dynamic also evolves, making the challenge more acute. The Army has determined that the most appropriate mechanism to meet these twin challenges is to forge a much closer partnership with Industry. By engaging more often, cohering research and development and enacting a more agile acquisition approach, capability development will be accelerated. With modernised, up to date technologies in the hands of users, innovation, adaptation and agility will follow, setting the conditions for Operational Advantage. Our panel discussed how this relationship can benefit both parties, identified blockers and hurdles and considered if this ambition is realistic.

Session 4: Secure, Engage Contest and Fight – Collaboration with Allies and Partners

The shift from a unipolar to a multi-polar world following the end of the Cold War has witnessed an explosion of multi- and bi-lateral alliances that cross both political and cultural boundaries. While many will remain solely political in nature, those alliances that aspire to place their armed forces together on the battlefield must first overcome many technical and doctrinal challenges. Is there a choice to be made between interoperability and resilience? If we build and buy the same equipment, does our manufacturing chain become our Achilles’ heel? The panel examined each of these problems in an effort to understand the complexity of interoperability in the 21st century.

General Information

General Information

The Land Capability Conference took place alongside the Aerospace Capability Conference and Maritime Capability Conference in the ICC at ExCeL London on Monday 9 September.

Registration: 0800 - 0900

Opening Plenary Keynote: 0900 - 0930

Conferences: 0945 - 1700

Closing Keynote Plenary: 1715 - 1745

Day Zero Drinks Reception: 1745 - 1900


  • DSEI showcases the best of British defence technology and innovation on the world stage. The UK Government looks forward to engaging with strategic partners, international delegations and pioneering defence companies on the global defence and security agenda.
    Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister for Defence Procurement
    UK MOD
  • I very much look forward to continuing my personal support to DSEI. It provides an excellent opportunity to explore the development of airpower capability, through engagement with the widest range of industry and international partners.
    Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC MA RAF Chief of the Air Staff
    Royal Air Force
  • I much look forward to DSEI. We intend to build on the very positive experience as we construct the partnerships we need to deal with the complexity of the future operating environment
    General Sir Nicholas Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen Chief of the Defence Staff
    Ministry of Defence
  • Once again the Royal Navy is proud to be at the vanguard of DSEI 2019 and I look forward to what I know will be a hugely beneficial opportunity for us all to explore maritime warfare development with so many partners from industry and academia, and with our counterparts from overseas.
    Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
    Royal Navy
  • DSEI is a highlight within the defence calendar, I use it to find out what the most recent developments are in every technological area affecting for defence. Without DSEI I fear this sort of interaction, information exchange and knowledge of developments across all domains would be lost. DSEI is an invaluable international biannual event .
    Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, Chairman, House of Commons Defence Select Committee
    UK Parliament
  • DSEI is a fantastic showcase for defence companies where international buyers, sellers, developers, thinkers, educators and the trainers can all get together. The UK defence industry is looking to recruit more engineers, scientists and developers into 200,000 jobs and up to 10,000 apprentices within UK defence companies. DSEI is an excellent tool to highlight the challenges the industry face as well as showcase its capabilities domestically and overseas.
    James Gray MP, House of Commons Defence Committee
    UK Parliament

Platinum Partners


  • General Dynamics

  • BAE Systems

International Partner


  • UAE Pavillion




Supported By

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  • Ministry of Defence

  • Department for International Trade