Mindfulness in the Military

Improving mental fitness in the UK Armed Forces using next generation team mindfulness training

Carter A, Tobias Mortlock J | Report 525 | Institute for Employment Studies | May 2019

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Major change often fails because of the people dimension. This is being addressed in UK Defence sector by the Strategic Edge Through People (SETP) 2040 Programme for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). There is a need to prepare not just for a specific planned change but to create a culture in which the whole Defence system achieves strategic change readiness i.e. operates reliably and with resilience and adaptability in the face of increasingly frequent uncertain, stressful and unknowable situations. As one of the SETP2040 research studies, our research explored whether mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) may be leveraged for generating transformative change, specifically relating to people and the culture that drives their behaviour in the face of stressful challenges.

A research team from IES and Cranfield was commissioned to investigate if, and how, mindfulness could be leveraged for strategic benefits. The team examined and compared different types of mindfulness-based mental fitness training to determine effectiveness in generating improved resilience, cognitive capacity and team work.

This investigation came about because the Defence sector has recognised that the world of work, workers, and warfare will have undergone a transformative change by 2040. The rate of change is likely to increase before then, and individuals and teams working in Defence will need to be resilient, agile, have a learning orientation and be ‘change-ready’ on a continuous basis.