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In July 2023, the Ministry of Defence published Defence Command Paper 2023 (DCP23) 'Defence’s response to a more contested and volatile world’ which was a refresh of the 2021 Defence Command Paper ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’. The DCP23 was published in recognition of the increasingly challenging security context and learnings from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, which had prompted a refresh of the 2021 Integrated Review in March 2023.

On the 20th of September (13.30 - 14.35), colleagues from the Freeman Air and Space Institute (FASI) will gather to discuss DCP23 at an online roundtable event. The discussion will highlight themes that would merit further development ahead of an expected defence review following the next General Election. The session will focus in particular on air and space power affairs, including conversation on deterrence, risk, people and skills, relations with industry and other pertinent topics.

Chaired by FASI's Visiting Professor Peter Watkins CBE, this webinar brings together a panel of distinguished experts including Dr Sophy Antrobus, (Ret'd) Air Marshal Sir Christopher Coville, Visiting Professor and Will Jessett CBE, Visiting Professor. The roundtable will include the opportunity for Q&A from the audience and we look forward to a lively debate so please do join us for this online event as we delve into the DCP23!


Dr Sophy Antrobus researches contemporary air power in the context of the institutional, cultural and organisational barriers to innovation and effectiveness in modern air forces, in particular the Royal Air Force. She joined the Freeman Air and Space Institute from Portsmouth Business School at the University of Portsmouth where she was a Teaching Fellow in Strategic Studies. She completed her PhD at the University of Exeter in 2019. Her thesis researched the early politics of air power and networks in Whitehall in the inter-war years.

Prior to her PhD, Sophy served in the Royal Air Force for twenty years including in Iraq and Afghanistan and a tour with the Royal Navy. She is a Fellow and elected member of the Council of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Hudson Fellow with the Royal Navy Strategic Studies Centre and a member of the Royal Air Force Museum Research Advisory Board.

Sir Christopher Coville joined the Royal Air Force in 1964 as a Flight Cadet at the RAF College Cranwell. After flying training, he served several tours of duty as an operational Lightning and Phantom pilot in the Air Defence role. His early career included staff and command appointments, including commanding No 111 (Fighter) Squadron, a spell in the Falkland Islands in 1983 as Officer Commanding Operations Wing, and later command of RAF Coningsby. Later he held senior appointments in Command, in NATO and in the MOD.

Sir Christopher has enjoyed a successful second career in business and in the Third Sector. He is past Chairman of Westland Helicopters Ltd (2005-February 2011), and past Chairman of the European Aerospace Companies’ Rotorcraft Group (2004-12). From 2003-20010 he was President of the Aircrew Association. He was until 2016 Senior Defence and Security Advisor to Dell/EMC, a global ICT Company, where he established a national reputation for his campaign to promote Cyber as a major UK commercial opportunity. He remains an associate member of the Information Assurance Advisory Council and speaks regularly on Cyber issues. From June 2013 to November 2017, he assumed the Chair of the British Helicopter Association, which represents the interests of all civilian helicopter operators and manufacturers. His recent appointments include: Ambassador for the Open University, Patron of the National Coastwatch Institution, Senior Defence Advisor to SecureCloud Plus, an SME with a niche position in Defence projects, and Special Advisor to Leonardo Helicopters Ltd. He lectures extensively on the Major Challenges Facing Mankind in the Twenty-First Century and has recently chaired a high-level group examining Modern Deterrence and Escalation Management; the resultant paper is now with the MOD Vice Chief of the Defence Staff.

Will Jessett retired from the Ministry of Defence in 2019 after a 33-year-long career in a variety of policy, strategy and operational roles. He spent a third of his career overseas (USA, Poland, Cyprus, Namibia) working closely with those governments. He has specialised in strategic defence planning, particularly in the last decade, shaping and leading MOD’s work on the major strategic defence and security reviews in 2010 and 2015, the 2017 National Security Capability Review and overseeing the Modernising Defence Programme which concluded at the end of 2018.

Will has degrees from Leicester University and King’s College London. He joined the MOD in 1985 and his career has combined jobs in Whitehall (as Private Secretary to Bob Ainsworth then Liam Fox, in NATO policy and planning, as MOD’s counter-terrorism director, and lately strategy director); several years working in operational delivery, crisis and financial management roles outside London; with diverse roles overseas, from helping to establish a MOD and develop defence policy for newly-independent Namibia, to being the MOD’s senior civil servant in Washington DC, managing all aspects of the UK-US defence relationship. He was appointed CBE for services to defence in 2007.

He is now pursuing a second career, as a Partner in SC Strategy, advising overseas governments and commercial organisations on strategy and planning. He is a visiting professor at King’s College London, a senior fellow at Exeter University and senior associate fellow at RUSI.


Peter Watkins was the Director General Strategy & International (2017-18) and Director General Security Policy (2014-17) in the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). In these roles, he was responsible for strategic policy & planning; deterrence policy, including nuclear; defence relations with NATO, the EU and key bilateral allies (US, France, Germany, Australia); and, latterly, defence industrial policy, including exports. Previous roles included Director General of the Defence Academy (2011-14); Director of Operational Policy, MOD (2008-11); Director Typhoon (2007-08). Among earlier assignments, he was Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary (2001-03) and Counsellor (Defence Supply & Aerospace), British Embassy Bonn/Berlin (1996-2000).

He was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University (2006-07). Peter is now a Non-Executive Member of the Board of the UK Space Agency; a Member of the Council of Cranfield University; a Visiting Senior Fellow with LSE IDEAS; and an Associate Fellow of Chatham House. He was awarded a CB and a CBE in the 2019 and 2004 Honours Lists respectively. He is a Visiting Professor at the Freeman Air and Space Institute at King's College London.

At this event

Sophy  Antrobus

Research Fellow at the Freeman Air and Space Institute

Peter Watkins

Visiting Professor