Tom McKane

Distinguished Fellow


Tom McKane is a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute and a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is also a senior member of the European Leadership Network.

Since retiring from the UK Ministry of Defence, Tom has divided his time between think tank work and consulting on defence issues, particularly on policy and strategy and how to trans-late policy into practical action. Tom has published articles on nuclear culture, NATO, and European defence, and contributed to articles on British defence reviews and hybrid warfare. He regularly undertakes lecturing and mentoring commitments with Cranfield University, LSE Ideas, and the Royal College of Defence Studies.

Between 2008 and 2014 Tom was, successively, Director General for Strategy and Director General for Security Policy in the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). In 2012, he was briefly the acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry. He led the MOD’s contribution to the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and was the Ministry’s principal adviser on all aspects of defence policy, including multilateral and bilateral defence relations.

In a career which included secondments to the Northern Ireland Office, the Cabinet Office’s Overseas and Defence Secretariat (the forerunner to the National Security Staff), where he was the Deputy Head, and the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia, Tom became an expert on defence policy and planning. Tom developed a particular interest in the UK nuclear deterrent, overseeing the team responsible for the 2006 Nuclear Deterrent White Paper and chairing the MOD’s Defence Nuclear Executive Board from 2011 to 2014. Between 1997 and 1999, Tom was Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen. This period included the 1998 Strategic Defence Review and the Kosovo Conflict.

Two years teaching English in Egypt in the 1970s and his time in the British Embassy in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s inspired a keen interest in the Arab world, which he maintains to this day.

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