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By: Philip Wilkinson

Sharpening the Weapons of Peace

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Colonel Wilkinson spent 31 years in the British Army with the Royal Artillery, commando and parachute brigades and special forces. In his last job in the army, he was the principal author of the first British Joint Warfare Publication (JWP 3-50 Peace Support Operations). During his military service he gradually came to the understanding that the achievement of peace required a comprehensive approach that addressed the causes and consequences of conflict and not just the symptoms. These thoughts were crystallised during his four years as a senior research fellow at the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College, London. After King’s College, he was deployed as the international advisor to President Kagame in Rwanda for one year and President Karzai in Afghanistan for two years before supporting the National Security Advisor in Baghdad for three years. More recently, he spent fifteen months in the occupied Palestinian territories before deploying to Somalia for three years to support the President and Minister of Internal Security. These positions have given Colonel Wilkinson a unique perspective of international intervention operations. Many others have written of their observations from the outside looking in, Colonel Wilkinson has had the privilege of being part of the host government looking out. Many may find his observations unsettling!

Philip Wilkinson served in the British Army for 31 years with the Royal Artillery, Commando and Parachute Brigades, Special Forces and the Intelligence Community in the Far East, Middle East and Northern Ireland, where he spent six years. In his final five years in the British Army, he was responsible for developing and writing the first British joint doctrine manual called Joint Warfare Publication, Peace Support Operations.


After leaving the British Army, he spent 4 years as a Senior Research Fellow with the Conflict, Security and Development Group, Kings College, London, developing the concept and practice of Security Sector Reform (SSR). Subsequently, he has been employed by the British Government as a security advisor, at the highest levels of government, in Rwanda (2001, with President Kagame), Sri Lanka (six months in 2002, with Defence Minister Marapana), Afghanistan (2004-06, with the National Security Advisor and President Karzai), in Iraq (3 years with the National Security Advisor), Palestine (15 months in 2011–12 establishing a multi-agency senior leader’s course) and in August 2016 he was contracted to advise the President of Somalia on all security policy matters as they relate to stabilisation and nation-building. He has assisted in the conduct of comprehensive national security threat assessments in Rwanda, Afghanistan and Somalia and the writing of national security, white-paper, policy statements in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.


He is married to Ruth and they have two grown-up children: Ollie and Sophie. His hobbies include driving his classic cars fast, salmon fishing and going to the village pub in Enford; but not all at the same time.


He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy and of the City and Guilds of London Institute, and a research associate at Chatham House.


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