On the day when the new Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) was announced as being Gen Houghton, Humphrey was delighted to be sent a link to a newly established website called ‘Chief of the Defence Staff Recommended Reading’.
Hosted at the Defence Academy website, the site is a chance for current members of the Armed Forces and MOD Civil Service to flag up particularly noteworthy books for further scrutiny. Designed to ensure that current generations of Staff Officers are able to remain informed of current books is extremely important, and Humphrey genuinely hopes the website flourishes over time. There is, to the authors mind at least, a reluctance in the UK military ethos to widely embrace the culture of academic study. It is sometimes seen as being far too keen, or far too geeky, and the study of military profession and current events is perhaps not taken as seriously as it should be in some quarters. The author remember sharing a room on an operational tour with a relatively junior US Officer who had shelves full of very heavy academic treatise on military history, theory and developments - he explained that even though deployed, he was studying for an MA to help him as part of his professional advancement, and that in the US system, he stood little realistic chance of promotion if he didn’t study hard.
While there are individual pockets of people who do take this sort of study seriously, it is perhaps frustrating that, in the authors experience at least, all too often there is scepticism attached to anyone who reads ‘serious books’ and people are reluctant to read and share their thoughts on them openly. Hopefully the establishment of the new site provides a genuine opportunity for the defence community to become more aware of recommended titles, and take the chance to read them as part of their ongoing professional development.
The site will be permanently linked here, but can be found at the following URL: http://www.da.mod.uk/da-news/the-chief-of-defence-staff-s-reading-list. It is also worth more broadly exploring the site, which contains links to many podcasts (http://www.da.mod.uk/podcasts) and many other publications as well - http://www.da.mod.uk/publications/library