Senior Directing Staff, Royal College of Defence Studies

The RCDS is an internationally renowned institution committed to developing strategic thinkers and leaders. In an international environment, which provides perspectives and insights from around the world, we seek to inspire study, stimulate thinking and stir and contribute to debate on contemporary strategic issues. Through contact and exchange across boundaries, in which the views of others are respected, the diverse international membership of RCDS provides a unique and enriching experience for all.

Job description

The purpose of Joint Force Development (JFD) is to anticipate and best prepare our Armed Forces for the challenges of tomorrow: permanently running an analytically-based cycle of generating, testing and codifying operating concepts that give the UK’s Armed Forces, and those of its allies and partners, the edge over our adversaries.

Joint Force Development as an organisation comprises the more militarily-oriented units of Joint Warfare (JW) and the Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ) – both located at Northwood – and the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) – based at Shrivenham – with the more academically-orientated Defence Academy that includes all of our staff colleges and many training schools, the most senior of which is the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS). The Defence Academy aims to educate our people to better understand the future, and to prepare our workforce to meet its challenges confidently. RCDS is expected to play a part in the overall enterprise of JFD, which increasingly includes a pan-government element as the Force Development of Defence capabilities cannot be divorced from the government’s Fusion Doctrine.

The RCDS Course itself focuses on strategic leadership and international studies, examining defence and security issues at the national strategic level, i.e. the level at which governments take decisions on these issues, both nationally and within the international community. The course runs annually over an academic year from September to July.

UK Members are nominated by the three military Services or by Other Government Departments. Overseas Members are recruited from some 50 countries on the basis of invitations sent through diplomatic channels each year by the Ministry of Defence. The majority of Members are from the Armed Forces, but other Members are drawn from HM Diplomatic Service, the Civil Service, police forces and other areas in the public sector. In the interests of broadening the base of experience and garnering wider perspectives, private sector and non-governmental organisation participation is also encouraged.

Course Members share one thing in common; they must be identified as high-fliers in their profession. Already in positions of responsibility, they will be selected on the basis of their potential to reach the highest ranks in their parent organisation, either as top decision-makers or as strategic advisers. Several Parliamentarians also participate in the course each year on a part-time basis, under the Armed Forces Parliamentary Trust Scheme.

In addition to RCDS’ main annual course, the College has taken on the organisation of the annual UK ‘Pinnacle’ courses (for military 2-3* officers and their Whitehall and US counterparts, now tasked each year by the National Security Adviser) and of the annual UK/US Rising Leaders’ and UK/French Strategy Fora; and it has a role as a partner organisation in the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS)’s Strategy Forum. The College has also taken on responsibility for the new National Security Community Senior Faculty courses, tasked by the National Security Advisor and collectively owned by National Security Council Departments and Agencies. This course is designed to help senior officials and officers reach a common understanding of ‘best practice’ strategy-making and strategy-implementation in the National Security domain (subsequent to the adoption of the recommendations of the Chilcot Report into the invasion of Iraq in 2003).

Please see attached the candidate information pack for further details.


Reporting to the Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies, the main duties of this Senior Directing Staff role are to:

Provide professional and pastoral care to a syndicate group of some 20 Members, including by means of mentoring, appraisal and report writing.

Maintain and enhance the position of RCDS as the most prestigious and most effective defence education establishment in the world, by means of its focus on the development of international strategic thinkers and leaders.

Ensure RCDS delivers its international course to the highest quality standards, while always striving to improve it.

Increase Members’ knowledge of high-level defence and security-related issues in a global context.
Provide constructive input into the monthly RCDS Management Board.

Host and deliver high profile and VIP visits, including those to individual companies and institutions both national and overseas, at all times acting as an ambassador for the College.

Be accountable for the delivery of specific College activities, in accordance with the SDS tasking matrix (refreshed annually).

Deliver agreed outputs and targets as effectively, efficiently and economically as possible, while remaining within delegated resource control targets and exploiting income generation opportunities.

Please click apply to see the candidate information pack for further details.

Apply today!