Advantage through industry: The Army releases its industrial engagement framework

The ever-changing political, social, economic and technological landscapes across the globe means that the Army must be agile enough to adapt to these challenges to gain operational and strategic advantage over adversaries.

The Army is required to perform a wide variety of roles at home and overseas, meaning that adaptability in structures and capabilities is crucial.

To help achieve this, the British Army has launched the Army Industrial Engagement Framework (AIEF), which for the first time defines how the army can develop a more cohesive and effective relationship with industry throughout the procurement and development process.

The framework sets out the principles of the army’s relationship with industry, focussing on continual, closer engagement to achieve battle-winning equipment programmes with the best value for money.

In the Army’s vision statement it says that the Army’s relationship with industry will ‘deliver capability that is adaptable, agile, resilient and affordable, giving UK Land Forces advantage over its adversaries’.

To meet these challenges, the Army say they must work closely with its allies and partners and but most importantly, with industry.

The report highlights the key role that science, technology and innovation will play in driving the Army’s search for new methods to military requirements and unlock game-changing advances.

The Army, like most the MOD as a whole, is also keen to seek out new ways of engaging with industry, including SMEs and non-traditional defence suppliers.

Exportability will also be a key factor throughout the development process in order to boost the opportunity for wider sales, thus providing a valuable contribution to UK prosperity.

Being the largest employer within defence, the Army will endeavour to make sure that human capability remains central to its decision-making processes. The AIEF states that the Army will ‘ensure outputs are delivered efficiently by the right mix of capable and motivated people’.

The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, explained: “The Army and industry have recognised a need to think differently about how their relationship should work in the future. Industry wants clarity form the Army on its future requirements so it can be better served, and the Army wants to gain advantages over its adversaries through the technology, innovation and efficiencies that industry can offer.”

The AIEF signposts for industry the direction the Army is taking with relation to capability objectives and the challenges it seeks industry’s support to overcome. It will guide industry as to where they might wish to focus research to benefit the Army in the future.

It highlights four design principles – Agility; Adaptability, Resilience; International by Design; and affordability – that help deliver a number of significant advantages such as:

Capable/adaptable people; increased tempo; resilience; improved survivability and redundancy; increased speed of projection; improved influence; enhanced operational and strategic mobility; reduced logistic need; increased operational security; increased capability in electronic attack; greater soldier lethality; deliver mass effect; improved electronic defence; improved situational awareness; improved platform reliability; free manpower from support roles; and enhanced ability to upgrade the force rapidly with technology.

To help achieve these, the Army has developed a number of higher-level requirements. These are intended to provide focus for capability development whilst still providing the opportunity for innovation.

Brigadier Kev Copsey, the British Army’s Head of Future Force Development said: “In this age of constant competition, fast moving threats and technological advances, our relationship with industry must be equally dynamic.

“As a buyer organisation, the Army has concluded that the closer the army and industry are in our aspirations, the more likely we will be able to successfully meet the operational and strategic challenges we both face.”

The objectives are understandably wide-ranging but include on the improving the performance and wellbeing of solders; degrading the enemy’s will, cohesion and cognition; exploiting robotic and autonomous systems; increasing standardisation; and improving training capabilities.

Through the AIEF, the Army has committed to a new approach to industry that includes increased speed, agility, greater innovation and a clear strategic alignment from the outset.

A series of open access industrial engagement events will be held with the intention to create an on-going and meaningful dialogue with industry.

There will also be an opportunity for industry to voice its feedback and series of lower level events, hands-on troop trials and demonstration days held to provide opportunities for further engagement. The Army has also committed to publishing its key policies and will provide early exposure of its capability portfolio.

The Army will follow the Routes to Market (Optimising Acquisition) initiative, which utilises integrated demand forecasting with early visibility of requirements to create more time to assess and plan resourcing and aggregate spend, ensuring that the most appropriate commercial approach is taken.

Defence Minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “The army’s new approach to industry signifies its world-class reputation for innovation and engagement. This framework will benefit industrial partners as they support defence in the delivery of future army capabilities.”

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