Future operating environment 2035

This edition describes the potential characteristics of the future operating environment in which we all may find ourselves operating in 2035.



Future operating environment 2035 (FOE 35) supersedes the 2010 Future character of conflict (FCOC) and aims to: describe the characteristics of the 2035 operating environment; provide evidence-based insights, and inform future Defence capability development.

FOE 35 describes the potential characteristics of the future operating environment, and is designed primarily to inform UK defence and security policy makers and our armed forces more broadly.

However, it is intended to have applicability across UK government and agencies to help inform their understanding of the future operating environment in which we all (military, other UK government departments, international organisations and agencies) may find ourselves operating in 2035.

While FOE 35 aims to provide a long-term analysis of the key characteristics of the operating environment in 2035, the nature of ‘futures’ work is such that attempting to pinpoint when particular trends or characteristics will emerge is invariably problematic.

Where this is the case, we discuss characteristics emerging out to, as well as in, 2035. Some characteristics of the future operating environment in 2035 are likely to be similar to those apparent today, but novel factors will emerge and some characteristics will become increasingly important in determining the future environment in comparison to today.

This document sets out to provide context for policy-makers. It aims to inform the debate on the future and, therefore, wider conceptual force development. FOE 35 is intended to provide a baseline for experimentation, but not to constrain Commands in their thinking.

Indeed, to innovate and adapt are 2 attributes that will greatly assist defence and its people as they move into the future. Armed with a better understanding of the future through FOE 35, threats can be anticipated and opportunities seized.

Published 14 December 2015