Future character of conflict

A study which seeks to describe what military forces are likely to experience in future conflicts out to 2029.

This publication was withdrawn on

This publication was replaced by DCDC Strategic Trends Programme Future Operating Environment 2035 published by DCDC in August 2015

This publication is no longer authoritative and has been archived.



Initiated by the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, ‘Future character of conflict’, published on 3 February 2010, is a study which offers a view on the future character of conflict out to the year 2029 and identifies the broad implications.

‘Future character of conflict’ found that the global trends indicate increasing instability and growing opportunity for confrontation and conflict. State failure, extremists, increased competition for resources and the changing global balance of power will dictate why, where and how we engage in conflict.

The study concludes that the character of conflict will continue to evolve. Though it is impossible to accurately predict the exact character of the future conflict, in many of our future operations we are likely to face a range of simultaneous threats and adversaries in an anarchic and extended operating area.

The study was led by the Ministry of Defence’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) and was undertaken alongside the DCDC’s Global Strategic Trends Programme. The work pre-dates the Secretary of State’s announcement of a Defence Review and is independent of it.

Published 2 February 2010
Last updated 16 December 2015 + show all updates
  1. Updated document to notify users that it is no longer current.

  2. Updated document to notify users that it is no longer current.

  3. First published.