An RAF Officer selected as the first Chief of the Defence Staff’s Scholar has graduated with distinction from the University of Exeter. Wing Commander Mal Craghill was selected as the CDS Scholar from a group of MOD personnel undertaking the inaugural MA Applied Security and Strategy (MStrat) at Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, where he had been awarded a place through the Chief of the Air Staff’s Fellowship scheme. Besides the MOD students the MStrat cohort of 28 included recent Bachelor’s graduates as well as mid-career professionals from diverse backgrounds, nationalities and career streams.
Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, led last year by Professor Paul Cornish and Lt Gen (Ret’d) Sir Paul Newton, offers the MStrat as a unique and innovative approach to the study of strategy in the contemporary security environment. Alongside a core programme of lectures and seminars, students undertake crisis management simulations, field trips and conferences as well as presenting their own policy frameworks for the UK’s engagement with real world challenges. In the latter case Wg Cdr Craghill led a group investigating the UK’s approach towards Iran, culminating in a presentation to Whitehall policy-makers at the Royal United Services Institute in London.
The MStrat, taught by dedicated faculty as well as a wide array of internationally renowned academics and practitioners, pushes students well beyond traditional academic boundaries and sees them producing blog posts, op-ed articles and think pieces, policy briefs, options papers and evidence submissions to Parliamentary Select Committees as well as more traditional essays and literature reviews. Topics range widely, covering areas such as the role of the private sector in delivering national strategy, scrutiny of intelligence and security agencies, and drawing lessons from historical case studies. The final MStrat deliverable is a dissertation on a strategy or security related topic; Wg Cdr Craghill’s research took an inter-disciplinary approach to remodelling conflict prevention in fragile states, applying lessons from crime prevention to suggest a revised approach to the UK’s strategy for intervening in the developing world. He is now putting the MStrat into action in the MOD’s strategic headquarters, formulating policy and plans in the Defence Engagement Strategy team.
Photo: Wg Cdr Craghill graduating from the University of Exeter’s inaugural MA Applied Security and Strategy.