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Unlike other aspects of military and state power the role of influence receives little attention and limited opportunities for policy makers, operators and academics to convene, share perspectives and identify opportunities for research and cooperation. This inaugural conference aims to help redress this balance and to discuss the evolving communications environment and highlight the requirements laid down by states and their militaries/security organisations in trying to develop effective strategies for utilising soft power and investing in the necessary capabilities. 

In the UK, much attention is being focused on the development of a new National Security Strategy and the associated Strategic Defence and Security Review. In this context, soft power remains an attractive tool for states especially when integrated with more traditional hard power; but effective delivery remains problematic both within militaries and across governments.

Part of the challenge remains a lexicon of overlapping terminology from ‘Strategic Communications’ to ‘Military Information Support’, making it difficult for policy makers and operators to develop shared understandings. The Institute has chosen to use the phrase ‘Military Influence’ to highlight the military component, with the recognition that this takes place in the context of wider government activity. The issues are further complicated by the challenges associated with measuring effectiveness and perceived difficulties and tensions in the moral and ethical domains. Others are also marching ahead with maximising the utility of soft power such as the impact of the Daesh public information campaign and the development of information warfare doctrines by nations such as Russia and China.

The intention of this conference is to facilitate a robust and prolonged dialogue around the issues for states and other actors in delivering effects through influence, including countering the similar efforts of adversaries. Conference participants will have the opportunity to explore ideas together and to enhance understanding of this critical field of national and international security.

The conference agenda will revolve around the following themes:

Session One: Context

  • Thinking About Soft Power
  • Understanding Techniques for Influencing Audiences
  • Assessing and Evaluating Strategic Communications

Session Two: Utilising Soft Power

Insights on how peer competitors, adversaries and non-state actors are delivering effects through influence, including:

  • Russia
  • China
  • Daesh

Session Three: Future Opportunities

How the latest developments in the following domains will shape opportunities to influence, inform and persuade:

  • Technology
  • Industry
  • Social Media

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