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Defense & Security

We help defense ministries, intelligence agencies, and other national-security organizations address their most difficult challenges and important opportunities.

Defense and security institutions worldwide—including defense ministries, military commands, regional and national security organizations, and intelligence agencies—are under intense pressure to maintain a high level of security for citizens while substantially reducing expenditures.

We help defense and security institutions meet this challenge. We combine deep international experience in national security with global expertise that spans industries and the public, private, and social sectors.

What we do

Our work in defense and security covers a wide range of topics. For instance, we help clients develop and execute strategic plans, analyze organizational behavior, explore new methods to improve operational efficiency, and redesign and implement IT infrastructure and systems.

In the past 5 years, we have supported defense ministries, military forces, police forces, and justice ministries in 15 countries on more than 180 defense and security projects. Examples of our work include the following:

  • supporting a major defense agency in developing a performance-management system to improve the implementation of its new strategic plan
  • assisting a military command in creating a human-capital strategy
  • advising a defense ministry on how to redesign its security-clearance processing system to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness
  • helping a regional-security organization develop an industrial strategy to improve competitiveness
  • advising defense agencies in several countries on how to streamline their procurement processes
  • supporting a client in developing an approach to prioritize contracting spending in support of stabilization operations
  • helping a major security agency design an integrated system for decision making and governance
  • driving end-to-end IT efficiencies across a defense organization by consolidating redundant assets, rationalizing overlapping applications, and optimizing large IT systems

We have access to proprietary research, tools, and approaches that have been successfully applied in various public- and private-sector contexts around the world. The McKinsey Center for Government’s research on core management functions, for example, helps public-sector defense and security leaders understand the practices that drive better management decisions.

Featured experts

John Dowdy

Senior Partner, London

Chandru Krishnamurthy

Senior Partner, Atlanta

Wolff van Sintern

Senior Partner, Düsseldorf

Impact stories

A European defense ministry revamps its logistics strategy and operations

With a streamlined end-to-end logistics process, a defense ministry reduced costs without sacrificing the quality of its armed... forces’ operational capabilities.

A defense agency strengthens its governance and performance management

To ensure successful execution of its five-year strategy, a US defense agency designed and developed a new governance structure... and performance-management system.

Related insight


McKinsey on Defense, Number 9

– As austerity settles in, our latest collection explains the ways that defense ministries, NATO, and defense companies are adapting.

Related solution


Helps leaders in the commercial defense sector make fast, informed strategic decisions using the world’s most comprehensive U.S. Department of Defense database