GO board and pieces
24 March 2021

Culture of Strategy-Making


Towards a Culture of Strategy-Making in Small & Middle Powers

Project leaders

BGen. Dave Abboud, Dr. Philippe Beaulieu-Brossard, Dr. Henrik Breitenbauch and Dr. Paul Mitchell


A robust culture of national/defense strategy-making & formulation in small and middle allied & partner powers to ensure awareness, relevance, and at least a coherence with the strategic environment as well as opening up possibilities for some forms of strategic autonomy in the 21st century.


Developing a learning system across three tracks: academic, professional and professional military education (PME) and across a selection of small/middle powers with an allied/partner status.


In recent years, the rise of a more isolationist US foreign policy reinforced by self-help State responses to the Covid pandemic left several middle and small powers in a position they were not prepared for. Small powers had to chart their own course, reactively, in a volatile global strategic environment. Lacking a proper strategy-making culture and processes, several small and middle powers could only improvise or rely on implicit ways of formulating strategy to make important choices on their own. As a result, small and middle powers that could rely on previous experiences, such as South Korea, succeeded, while those plunged into the unknown without the proper strategy-making culture to address the unknown, are still struggling. While campaigning in Afghanistan for more than a decade confirmed, to many, the need to develop national/defense strategy-making capabilities from a middle & small power perspective, the emerging security environment in the post-Covid post-Trump era makes it a necessity.

Academic track: The academic track explores (i) how comparable middle/small powers conduct national/defense strategy making & formulation in the 21st century, (ii) how might they conduct national/defense strategy-making if they would augment current practice with the state-of the art, and the (iii) academic track will translate these insights into specific state based models as well as a general model for small/middle powers.

The Professional Military Education (PME) track: The PME tracks target colonels (OF-5s) and senior national security policy-makers. This track will focus on sharing ownership and learning-by-making by inviting interns to test prototype models and provide feedback for following iterations.

Professional track: The professional track expands the PME track by initiating dialogue on strategy-making & formulation with senior leaders in charge of National/defense strategy in small/middle powers. To do so, the project will seek partnerships with defence organisations already practicing strategy-making implicitly or explicitly and looking for more advanced processes, professional and organizational development.


National/defense strategy-making models for specific middle and small power as well as a more general model for middle and small powers.

Current Partners

Centre for Military Studies


Canadian Forces College