Paul Newton: Learning to Operate in Complexity

It’s all well and good addressing the complexity of the modern security landscape in a theoretical way. It is an altogether richer experience if one can marry theory with the practical insight that comes from seeing – indeed being an integral part of – an endeavour that operates on a scale far beyond the confines of any university classroom-based simulation or work placement.

That is the unique experience students and staff at SSI enjoy thanks to a formal partnership between the Institute and NATO’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps – the headquarters that recently returned from Kabul.

ARRC is a multi-national and increasingly inter-agency organisation. Several hundred strong, held on short notice and at a high state of preparedness to deploy, it exists to take strategic direction and translate that into plans and operations in any security setting from major war to humanitarian relief.

In a concept trialled last year, Exeter students on the MStrat programme will now experience analytical complexity and agile decision-making by taking part in ARRC’s annual mission rehearsals. In return, NATO staff have already exploited the rich academic expertise in Exeter’s growing applied strategy and security communities. This is a new model for academic/practitioner engagement – one that should be productive for both parties.

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