Defence Diplomacy: A softer side of UK Defence – Report Summary

This is a House of Commons Committee report, with recommendations to government. The Government has two months to respond.

Author: Defence Sub-Committee

Related inquiry: Cultural Defence Diplomacy

Date Published: 23 May 2023

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The UK’s position in the world comes from more than its hard power. Its attractiveness as a nation and its ability to influence other nations is a critical component to statecraft. The UK’s soft power and defence engagement objectives have scope to be updated and enhanced.

One of the UK’s soft power tools is that of culture. Within the realm of defence, that culture is superbly demonstrated by the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which brings opportunities for informal conversations with a range of important people from around the world. As well as cultural displays, the UK also has excellent hard power assets, like Royal Navy ships, that can be incorporated to include soft power objectives.

The Ministry of Defence’s presence and influence across the globe are exercised through its Global Defence Network. The last Defence Command Paper recognised that Defence Attachés carry out critical work. However, the network could benefit from further professionalisation and enhancements around career paths and development, language skills and educational institutions.