Peter Watkins

Former DG Strategy & International at Ministry of Defence (MoD)

Policy Leaders Fellow, Centre for Science and Policy

Peter Watkins CBE is a former Director General of Strategy & International in MOD. He was responsible for defence policy on NATO and the Euro-Atlantic area, the defence implications of exiting the European Union, and our key bilateral defence relationships as well as strategic planning and strategic policy matters (e.g. nuclear deterrence, cyber, space, exports).

During his career in the MOD since 1980, Peter has worked closely with all three Services and has held senior posts in security policy, acquisition and resource management. Prior to his present appointment, Peter was Director General Security Policy from April 2014 to November 2017, responsible for all aspects of the defence contribution to security policy, including multilateral and bilateral defence relations and nuclear policy. Previously, he was Director General of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, a world-renowned institution responsible for the education and training of UK military personnel and MOD civil servants in command and staff skills, leadership, acquisition, technology and languages.

Prior to this, Peter was Director Operational Policy from 2008-11; this post is responsible for setting the policy framework for the planning and conduct of UK military operations overseas and in the UK. As Director Typhoon, he was responsible for the overall direction of the programme to deliver and support the RAF’s latest combat aircraft. Before that, from 2004-06, he was Command Secretary of RAF Strike Command (STC) which contained the RAF’s front-line aircraft. In this role, he was the board member responsible for resources, civilian personnel and corporate services. Peter was Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary from 2001-03.

Earlier assignments centred on international armaments policy. Peter was Team Leader of the MOD’s ‘Smart Acquisition’ acquisition change programme (2000-01); Counsellor for Defence Supply & Aerospace in the British Embassy in Germany (1996-2000); and, before that, the Finance and Secretariat Director responsible for the financial and political aspects of the UK’s participation in the Eurofighter (now Typhoon), Tornado and Joint Strike Fighter programmes. Prior appointments included three years as Private Secretary to the Minister for Defence Procurement (1990-93) and a number of policy-related roles.

Peter was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge University, where he studied History and Political Philosophy. He is an ancien of the NATO Defense College (1993-94); and was a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University for the 2006-07 academic year. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a Liveryman of the Coachmakers’ Company and a Member of the Institute of Directors.