Programme THEIA

British Army Digital Transformation Conference

Wednesday 25 January 2023 │ 09:00-18:45 │ The Cavalry and Guards Club, London, W1J 7PX
In partnership with
     British Army-1   

A key part of the Army’s modernisation programme is its Digital Transformation Programme, Programme THEIA, which is at the heart of the British Army Land Operating Concept and Army Operating Model.

It also seeks to improve the Army’s integration with industry, partners, and allies, underpin its ambitions to be a significant contributor to HMG’s Global Britain strategy, and deliver an “asymmetric Army for the Digital Age”.

Programme THEIA’s objectives are to:

  • Change digital culture and behaviours, equipping people with digital skills, and
    promote new digital ways of working
  • Integrate all information from command and control, intelligence, sensors, effectors
    and platforms across domains, partners and allies
  • Deliver better data and enabling better operational and corporate competitiveness,
    efficiency and effectiveness.

Following on from our Programme THEIA webinar, attend this THEIA
conference to:

  • Take part in workshops on emerging tech with leaders from Defence and industry
  • Help shape the Army's approaches and solve cross-industry problems
  • Receive the latest updates and insights on Programme THEIA, the Land CEMA programme, and the Defence context, and participate in Q&A
  • Network with decision makers and key stakeholders from Defence and industry

09:00 Registration and networking

10:00 Admin and Opening Remarks

Richard Morgan, Founder, Chief Disruptor Defence

10:10 Delivering a Data-Centric Army from the Line of March: Risk and Reward

Major General John Collyer, Director Information and CIO, British Army

10:50 Break into workshop groups

11:00 Workshops 1 and 2

  • Future adoption of hyperscale cloud: Is it the silver bullet for Defence?
  • Digital Skills Landscape: Recruitment and retention in Defence

12:30 Networking lunch

13:30 The Land Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA) Programme

Colonel Toby Courage, Programme Director, Land CEMA Programme, British Army

14:10 Coffee break and networking

14:40 Workshops 3 and 4

  • Data Accessibility & Ownership: The integrity behind the scenes
  • Cyber Security: From Barrier to Business enabler - Secure by design approach

16:10 Break

16:20 Programme THEIA update and insights

Brigadier Stefan Crossfield, Head of IX, CDO, Principal AI Officer, British Army

17:00 Strategic update and insights

Charlie Forte, CIO, Ministry of Defence

17:40 Closing remarks

17:50 Armed Forces Covenant signing

Emma Taylor, Founder & Managing Director, Chief Disruptor

Lieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes CBE, Deputy Commander UK Strategic Command

18:00 Networking drinks


Hear from:

Maj Gen John Collyer-1

Major General John Collyer, Director Information & Chief Information Officer, British Army

Major General Collyer was educated at Ermysted’s Grammar School in North Yorkshire and Welbeck Sixth Form College before commissioning into the Royal Signals. His early service was spent at Regimental Duty in Battlegroup, Brigade, Division, Corps and Joint Force formations and with Other Government Departments.

Following Junior and Initial Command and Staff courses, Major General Collyer commanded at Squadron and Regimental level and subsequently Joint Forces Cyber Group and 1st (United Kingdom) Signal Brigade. His staff appointments have included the MOD Operations Directorate, Defence Intelligence, Army Headquarters, Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps and the United States Security Coordinator HQ. In the deployed arena, he has operated in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He holds a 1st Class Information Systems Engineering Degree with honours and a Masters in Defence Studies from King’s College London.

Following an assignment as Head Strategy, Capability and Development in the Army HQ Information Directorate, he was appointed the Army HQ’s Director of Information and Chief Information Officer in October 2021.


Bio PhotoColonel Toby Courage, Director Land CEMA Programme, British Army

Following commissioning in December 1998, Col Toby Courage served in 16 Air Assault Brigade, 3rd Armoured Division and 12 Mechanized Brigade.

His sub-unit command saw him working in support of the UK’s Allied Rapid Reaction Corps contribution to NATO. He then returned to staff as SO2 ISTAR within the British Army’s Command Support Development Centre, managing Electronic Warfare/Signals Intelligence capability integration. He later joined the newly-formed Joint Cyber Unit (Cheltenham) as SO2 J3, working as an ‘Operational Lead’ for Offensive Cyber operations.

On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel he attended Staff College before taking command of 15 Signal Regiment, during which he led the Army’s Cyber Protection Team pilot. Following an operational tour as Deputy Director J6 within the Operation INHERENT RESOLVE Combined Joint Headquarters, and a four-month assignment as SO1 Strategy at UK Strategic Command’s C4ISR Capability branch, he joined the UK’s Permanent Joint Headquarters on promotion as DACOS J6 Operations and Cyber. His current role is as Assistant Head Cyber and Electro-Magnetic Activities within Army Headquarters where he performs the role of Programme Director for the Land CEMA Programme.


Stef Crossfield

Brigadier Stefan Crossfield, Head of Information Exploitation, Chief Data Officer, Principal AI Officer, British Army

Following attendance at Sandhurst Brig Stefan Crossfield was commissioned in to the REME in 1992. His initial assignment as a Lieutenant Colonel saw him working for Director Force Development ahead of the SDSR and then join the core Army 2020 team for 10 months.

Brig Crossfield took command of 6 Armoured Close Support Battalion REME in 2012 just before Op HERRICK 18. On his return he was selected for promotion to Colonel and temporarily acted as DCOS 3 (UK) Division.

Brig Crossfield has more recently delivered the narrative describing the military offer as COS to DPers and completed an Academic External Placement at Exeter University securing an MBA with Distinction in 2018. He served as DACOS YELLOWHAMMER in Jan 2019, completed a short tenure as DACOS Current Plans in HQ Home Command and upon promotion to Brigadier joined Army HQ as Head Information Exploitation (IX) in late 2020. As Hd IX, Brig Crossfield also fulfils the roles of CDO and Principal AI Officer for the British Army.

Brig Crossfield is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. He is also a Chartered Manager and has a Masters Degree in Information Systems. 


Charlie Forte

Charlie Forte, Chief Information Officer, Ministry of Defence

Charlie has 38 years industry experience gained from leading IT globally as Deputy Group Global CIO at BP, as CEO of Global IT Services at Prudential and as Interim CIO at Thames Water. He has worked as an independent consultant helping businesses transform their ability to exploit digital technology.

Charlie Forte was appointed the Chief Information Officer for the Ministry of Defence in January 2018. He is the primary advisor to the Defence Board on Information and Digital and is responsible for strategy and policy on the exploitation, operation, interoperability and protection of information and digital technology across the Ministry of Defence. This includes cyber security and resilience; the promotion of new ways of working, information technology-enabled innovation; and the delivery of effective IT services. Charlie is a member of the Defence Executive Committee and the Strategic Command Executive Committee.


Tom Copinger SymesLieutenant General Tom Copinger-Symes CBE, Deputy Commander UK Strategic Command

Lt Gen Copinger-Symes spent his early career on operations with The Royal Green Jackets (now The Rifles) on operations in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan; and in operational and strategy posts at the Permanent Joint Headquarters and the Ministry of Defence.

In 2014 he formed and commanded 1st Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance Brigade, created to integrate the Army’s intelligence collection and exploitation capabilities. In 2017 he led the ‘Information Manoeuvre’ Project, commissioned by the Army’s Board to explore the benefits of integrating the Army’s information-centric and digital capabilities and to exploit digital technology with new ways of warfare.

In his next post, as a Major General, he commanded those capabilities, pioneering the Army’s response to a new era of great power competition, which culminated in his formation’s re-designation as 6th (UK) Division.

In 2019 he was appointed Director Strategy and Military Digitisation at Defence Digital, accelerating Defence’s digital transformation and increasing its adoption and exploitation of digital technology. And in May 22 took up the post of Deputy Commander UK Strategic Command on promotion to Lieutenant General.

He has been on the Chief Disruptor Members' Advisory Board since 2018.

This conference has now taken place. You can read a summary of the conference here.

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