Europe

Armed Forces to be overhauled as enemies unpick Britain’s weaknesses ‘posture must change’

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General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said that we must be on the front foot against our adversaries, such as Russia and China, who no longer “distinguish between peace and war”. But he warned “the nature of war never changes” and insisted “we will always require people to go head to head on the ground to seek a result and a decision” amid fears that troop numbers could be cut during a review into Britain’s foreign and defence policies.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, below, admitted our enemies have studied our weaknesses “and adapted far more quickly than us”.

He said that our armed forces will be reshaped to be “fit for tomorrow’s battles, not fighting yesterday’s”.

Military chiefs are set to invest far more money in Britain’s cyber, space and sub-sea capabilities.

General Carter revealed: “Fundamentally for us, it means we’ll think much more about a force structure that is not just through the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, as we used to describe it.

“Rather, it will be a force structure that will be designed through the new domains of space and cyber and maritime, air and land.”

General Carter said Britain’s Armed Forces will need a “digital backbone” as our “opponents” have upgraded their own capabilities, launching cyber attacks, stealing intellectual property, and creating fake news to disrupt other countries’ domestic politics.

He added: “These opponents no longer distinguish between peace and war, between foreign and domestic policy, or, for that matter, between public and private. They now compete in all these different areas and they take a great opportunity in blurring these distinctions.

“Our posture will have to change. It is a posture which will be much more about campaigning.”

The head of Britain’s military insisted our Armed Forces will need to be operating across the globe and online “all of the time”.

But General Carter, speaking aboard the Royal Navy’s newest ship, offshore patrol vessel HMS Tamar, added: “Please remember that whilst the character of conflict evolves continuously and this Integrated Operating concept is a response to that, the nature of war never changes.

“It will always be visceral, violent and about politics.

“And ultimately it will always require people to go head to head on the ground to seek a result and a decision.

“It never changes and we should bear that in mind and history would underpin it.”

The Integrated Review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development is due to conclude in the autumn.

It is regarded as the biggest assessment of foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

Mr Wallace said: “Too often the budget, not the threat, did the talking.

“So we will pivot away from what we have become used to and instead reshape our armed forces to become a force fit for tomorrow’s battles, not fighting yesterday’s.

“Instead of mass and mobilisation, this future force will be about speed, readiness and resilience, operating much more in the newest domains of space, cyber and sub-sea, and working to prevent conflict, as well as winning it.

“Ours will be an Armed Forces that operates at full capacity with a more flexible force structure that is better equipped for lighter tasks.

“It will be a future force that, not only maintains our leadership in Nato, but is more forward deployed: deterring Russian activity in Europe; combatting terror in the Middle East and the Sahel; and countering Chinese activity in the Asia Pacific.”

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