MoD brings in Amazon to boost tech skills of Armed Forces leaders

Ministry claims that MoU is a first-of-its-kind deal

Credit: Crown Copyright/Open Government Licence v3.0

The Ministry of Defence has signed what it claims is a world-first deal with Amazon Web Services through which the tech giant will support the delivery of digital skills training to senior government and military officials in the coming years.

The two parties have announced the commencement of a three-year memorandum of understanding which will see AWS provide resources to assist with the MoD’s Digital Skills for Defence programme.

The tech will offer “cloud-based skills development and training to thousands of personnel across UK defence”. The aim of these education programmes will be to provide “the next generation of future leaders in the British Armed Forces and wider supply chain with the data and digital skills to defend the UK from emerging threats”.

Initiatives will include offering “a tailored programme of attachments” through which senior digital leaders in the MoD will be given the chance to work in new environments. 

Amazon will also assist with running the ministry’s Digital Foundry facility which “harnesses emerging technology to tackle some of the country’s most pressing defence challenges”.

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Laurence Lee, second permanent Secretary at the MoD, said: “It is crucial we keep defence personnel at the forefront of digital skills as we’re faced with emerging threats in an ever-changing battlespace. The speed of digital change cannot be underestimated, and the Digital Skills for Defence programme will help us match global competitors. This agreement with AWS exemplifies our focus on harnessing cutting-edge ways of working within defence, drawing on the expertise of the public and private sectors, and we’re excited at the new opportunities for skills development this presents.”

The agreement comes after the ministry announced earlier this month that it intended to implement various partnerships with commercial partners to support its work to boost digital skills across the defence sector and the military. This partnership initiative came shortly after the National Audit Office published a report criticising the MoD’s implementation of the Digital Strategy for Defence, the delivery of which has been hampered by the ageing technology and a lack of skills, auditors found.

Announcing the Amazon arrangement, Charles Forte, chief information officer at the MoD, said that he “look forward to developing this partnership with AWS and other companies and organisations across the sector”.

“Amazon’s agreement to build upon and scale up our work within the Digital Skills for Defence programme is a crucial priority that will help us realise digital transformation across defence,” he added. “It serves as an important symbol of how we must deepen our work with the tech sector to realise our objectives.”


Sam Trendall

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