Hadean Talks: Military all-stars explore how to build an integrated force

By John Cottrell

“We are in the foothills of the the most significant transformation of defence and security for over 100 years”, said Sir Richard Barrons, in the latest Hadean Talks session which welcomed a panel of military all-stars to discuss “Building an integrated force and the race to digital supremacy”.

Moderated by Hadean Co-Founder & COO, Mimi Keshani, the webinar featured General Sir Richard Barrons, former Commander Joint Forces Command and current Co-Chairman at Universal Defence & Security Solutions, Air Marshal (ret’d) Phil Osborn, former Chief of Defence Intelligence and current Director at UDSS, and Air Vice Marshal (ret’d) Gary Waterfall, Senior Defence Advisor at DSEI.

The conversation kicked off with an exciting announcement of Hadean’s new strategic partnership with UDSS, focused on combining technical and military know-how into a unique offering for defence customers, “enabling the integration of virtual and physical worlds in a seamless way which is important for the UK”. Phil Osborn said, “it feels right to take the working relations and better integrated for the benefit of both organisations”.

Discussions then touched on the proliferation of AI and ML technologies in defence, with Sir Richard Barrons describing recent developments “as powerful as the arrival of the railway, the machine gun, the aircraft and the submarine”, stressing nonetheless the need to “build a bridge between the user and the technology coming out of the private sector”. Gary Waterfall also took point to add that the power of novel technologies should be harnessed to “present the commander, decision maker, with that quality of advice”, transforming data into actionable information.

The drive to multi-domain integration was also a key theme the panel explored, with Phil Osborn highlighting that enabling technology that can “integrate legacy with current and future tech in a way that is seamless will be battle-winning”. Adding to this, Sir Richard Barrons stressed that integration is critical not just across technologies but also across industry and government, even beyond national level. On the same note, Gary Waterfall made a distinction between integration and interoperability, commenting on the need for “industry and government to galvanize and work together.”

Highlighting the issue of obsolescence as technology has advanced beyond programme requirements by the time they are written. “The old way of doing business is never going to deliver”, said Sir Richard Barrons. “What we need is partnerships in whatever setting the MOD is prepared to sit on”. To this point, Phil Osborn added that while “the MOD recognises that it is important to incentivise industry”, “the way we use acquisition processes to buy digital tools must be different to how we buy tanks and ships.” Adding to the discussion, Gary Waterfall took things a step further, recognising that many Primes don’t have “the key to the door” of novel technology and that the assistance of SMEs is needed – “a collaborative approach to go to the SRO with an answer to their problem”. Ultimately, however, the point was made that defence operates on public money and will therefore always be slower than the public sector.

If you missed the LIVE discussion, you can watch the full recording on-demand here.

Hadean and UDSS will be exhibiting at DSEI 2023. Visit us at stand H2-130 and H2-682 to find out more.