Visit to Britain’s Ministry of Defence Part I

A majestic reminder from imperial times, this building instills nothing but respect.

For my first post, I would like to go back to the first semester of my Master’s course at Westminster.

Our course leader Pam Williams organised for our entire class to visit Britain’s Ministry of Defence, and in particular, their Comms department. We gathered at 10 o’clock on a sunny October morning at a spot next to the giant building of the MOD, untainted by its gargantuan shadow where we could enjoy the last days of sun before the dreadful British winter descended on London. And before you think of “Winter is coming” jokes, let me tell you this – winter in London matches that of Westeros pretty well, minus the frozen zombies.

As our class gathered in the sun, I grew curious of the building and impatient to get in. That is when I took the picture above. I thought to myself “I need to capture this building. It symbolises everything that my vivid mind imagined about Britain’s military might throughout the centuries as I read the history books in school.” I’m glad I took that picture – it will always remind me of my stay in London, and why I cherish it so much.

Anyway, half an hour passed before we finally got to getting in. The accreditation was quick, but nothing could prepare us for the weapon screening – we entered a sound-proof chamber in groups of 5 while the others were waiting on both ends watching us getting anxious inside while some invisible device was clearly scanning us. I will never forget that strange feeling of claustrophobia coupled with unspoken intimidation and inexplicable panic as our hosts closed the chamber and we started asking ourselves what we’re supposed to do now.

Thankfully, when we finally sat down in the conference room, the MOD’s communication team made every effort to make us feel at home. We were greeted by 3 members – the media chief, the social media officer and a representative of the military assigned to the team.

First, they introduced us to some administrative developments at the institution which I personally found quite interesting – they talked about convergence and digitalisation of government services, and in particular the idea of bringing every branch of government under one digital umbrella – gov.uk. This site already exists, but apparently the process of turning it into one huge integrated platform that combines all government services, is an ongoing process. The UK is a very innovative and modern country, and I was not surprised to learn that they are taking the concept of “digital government” very serious.

Read Part II here.

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