Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre

As the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD’s) think tank, the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) helps inform defence strategy, capability development, operations and provides the foundation for joint education.


What we do

DCDC staff are drawn from all 3 services, the Civil Service and partner nations. We work with NATO, the European Union, United Nations, and a global network including other government departments, non governmental organisations and industry.

Located at Shrivenham, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) sets our direction and we are also the Swedish Concepts and Doctrine Centre with Swedish officers serving in the centre.

Our outputs and responsibilities include: the Strategic Trends Programme which provides the long term strategic context for policy makers; concepts, which outline how our armed forces and defence may operate in the future; doctrine, which provides guidelines for commanders based on best practice and operational experience; and oversight of the legal content of operational law training.

The work of DCDC underpins strategic force development in the MOD, joint force development and command level force development within the commands.

For more information about the DCDC, please read Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre: the MOD’s independent think tank.


Many MOD activities, projects and policies have implications for decades to come. It is therefore important, that the MOD thinks about the future.

Our Futures team, in collaboration with its global network, considers what the future might look in 30 years time and publishes its thoughts and findings through its Strategic Analysis Programme. This work is especially useful in the preparation of strategic defence and security reviews and national security strategies.

Beyond its work within the MOD, the Futures team also contributes to cross-government thinking about the future and works closely with international partners and allies.

Our most up-to-date publication, Global Strategic Trends: The future starts today was published in October 2018. As with previous editions, Global Strategic Trends: The future starts today, does not attempt to predict the future -– it cannot. Instead, it is an aid to thinking about the future.

Other recent research includes:


The Concepts Team writes future operating concepts that look beyond current policy and financial horizons at the likely ways defence might operate 20 years from now.

Working with the Futures Team, engaging with academia and a multinational network of allies and partners, these concepts are a basis for capability insights that inform future force development.

Alongside MOD policy makers, the team produces Joint Concept Note (JCN) 1/17, future force concept. This is the authoritative high-level analytical concept, which supports balance of investment decision-making to shape the design and development of the future force out to 2035.

Team members from the single services also produce the maritime, land, and air and space higher level doctrine, describing how defence operates in each of these environments today. All of this, backed up by numerous studies and research papers, serves as a basis for the professional education of the most promising future commanders and staff officers.

Publications include:


The Doctrine Team is responsible for writing and maintaining a range of joint operational level UK and NATO doctrine publications which include thematic, functional and environmental doctrine.

The Doctrine Team works with a range of cross government experts such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development, as well as international organisations including the United Nations.

By putting ‘NATO at the heart of UK defence’ we are able to achieve maximum coherence and interoperability with, and between, our closest allies and partners. Where possible, we will adopt NATO doctrine (Allied joint publications) rather than producing national doctrine (joint doctrine publications). Where we cannot, we will make sure that we remain compatible.

UK specific ‘best practice’ will be preserved through a smaller number of remaining joint doctrine publications and supplementary UK elements within NATO publications.

Publications include:


The Strategic Analysis team produces analysis and research to inform and support the development of defence policy and strategy through:

  • developing understanding of the strategic context for defence
  • deepening policy and strategy by building the evidence base
  • challenging the assumptions that underpin policy and strategy

The team is supported by the ‘Global Strategic Partnership’ consortium. Led by RAND Europe, the consortium includes: the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, QinetiQ, Newman and Spurr Consultancy (NSC), Aleph Insights, Simplexity Analysis and Professor Sir Hew Strachan.

The team also convenes the Chief of the Defence Staff’s (CDS) Strategy Forum.

Recent forums have addressed Arctic strategy, Autonomy, Space strategy and understanding Russia.

We are supported by a team of in house lawyers, one from each of the 3 services. They are specialists in international law and have an operational background.

The Legal Team ensures that all DCDC outputs are legally sound and also have a major role in ensuring law of armed conflict training is provided to service personnel.

The team is responsible for some notable legal products, including Joint Service Publication 383, Joint services manual of armed conflict and Joint Doctrine Publication 1-10, Captured persons which is the UK detention doctrine.

Our Legal Team participates in national and international debates concerning developments in, and approaches to, international law. They also provide specialist advice on international weapons law, notably writing the mandatory legal reviews of weapons and methods/means of warfare.

Analysis and research

The Analysis and Research Team provides the empirical evidence and scientific basis for our products. The team ensures that we maintain our status as a professional body of knowledge and that the knowledge built is relevant, retained, maintained and exploited.

Knowledge is gained using current and appropriate developments in the social sciences, science and technology, and by providing analysis and experimentation to support conceptual and doctrinal development.

The team is also responsible for providing analysis advice, engaging in a wide range of experimentation activities, including: red teaming; synthesising operational lessons; identifying trends; developing thought provoking insight; and challenging thinking.

This work is further supported by networks of appropriate experts and academics producing well informed, widely sourced and peer reviewed research. All of this supports our outputs, enabling better decision making for UK defence and security.

Publications include:

Associated publications and papers

*DCDC writers’ handbook

Contact us

For all general enquiries about DCDC and our publications, you should contact:

Doctrine Editor
Telephone: 01793 314 347