9 March 2018

CASH FOR CYBER WAR Britain could be defeated in cyber war unless government gives armed forces more cash, top general warns

By Greg Wilford

Sir Gordon Messenger, vice chief of defence staff, called for increased spending to counter the threat from new weapons technologies being developed in states such as Russia  BRITAIN could face defeat in a future cyber war if the government does not give the armed forces more cash, one of the country’s top generals has warned. Sir Gordon Messenger, vice chief of defence staff, said extra spending is needed to combat the threat from new weapons technologies being developed in potential enemy states including Russia.

Vice chief defence of staff Sir Gordon Messenger warned of the dangers posed by cyber warfare unless the government injects more cash into the armed forces

The Royal Marines officer warned that the UK will suffer “deterioration in the international arena” over the next 15 years if current levels of spending are continued.

Sir Gordon, 55, has been tipped to take over as head of the armed forces when Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach steps down this summer.

He told The Times: “We have to wake up to the idea that our ability to turn data into information advantage.

"Our ability to respond faster through clever decision-making, which is enabled by the flow of information, is actually frankly as important if not even more important than whether our tanks out-range an anti-tank missile.”

Sir Gordon has been spoken of as a replacement for head of the armed forces Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach this summer

Sir Gordon said UK forces must develop the capacity to protect networks from hacking, electronic warfare and other forms of hostile interference in the future.

This will extend to developing methods to disrupt and jam an enemy’s flow of data and their ability to use GPS signals.

He continued: “I am not saying you don’t need physical capability, you absolutely need physical capability but unless you are able to operate within an environment where you can achieve information advantage. . . then you are not going to be able to maximise the benefit of that.

"The winner of the next big fight is going to be the one that can manipulate and achieve advantage in the information domain.”

Sir Gordon is the first senior figure from the armed forces to openly call for more funding in a generation.

“Defence affordability is not something we should shy away from . . . We should be making the case for a bigger defence budget in order to respond to those types of threats that are changing all of the time,” he added.

“What I am not suggesting is that we are about to descend into world war any moment now, but I do think there are activities going on that need to be countered.”

The general also revealed that Russia is conducting reconnaissance of critical national infrastructure and launching aggressive cyber attacks.

Sir Gordon also described Kim Jong-un and North Korea's nuclear ambitions as a 'global security issue'

And claimed that contingency planning is under way for what Britain could offer the US and South Korea in a conflict with North Korea.

Sir Gordon described the nuclear ambitions of Kim Jong-un as a “global security issue” and said winning the “information war” will be crucial in the next big fight.

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He continued: “If you can target a system or a sensor that the enemy has through a variety of means — electronic warfare, offensive cyber, lasers, which is another area we are seeking to develop national edge in then you are able to write the rules of the battlefield.

“If you don’t and you don’t know what is going on and you can’t trust your sensors and you’re not able to talk to everyone that you need to or you fear that you’re being second guessed by your adversary then you are going to lose.”

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