Britain’s armed forces face the prospect of defeat in future military disputes unless it gets more funding, a serving military chief has warned.
The threat from Russia and the growing range of weapons and technologies being developed by other states is a chief concern of General Sir Gordon Messenger, who could be in line to take over as the head of the military later this year.
The Vice Chief of Defence Staff told The Times there are activities that “need to be countered” as he called for a bigger defence budget to deal with the dangers from abroad.
He also highlighted his fears over North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions, saying they are a “global security issue”, and that British plans were afoot to see how we could help South Korea and the US deal with the danger.
Highlighting how some countries and terror groups pose a fresh challenge today because they blur the lines of peace, he said: “There is a duty for us, as a key influential nation… to have capabilities that counter it, deter against it and from a national perspective defend ourselves and our allies against it.”
His intervention comes at a time when Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been calling for more funding for the armed forces. The shortfall in the armed forces budget is thought to be £20 billion to £30 billion over the next decade.
Gen Messenger, 55, said Britain has to “wake up to the idea” of using data to help defeat enemies, saying it “is actually frankly as important if not even more important than whether our tanks out-range an anti-tank missile”.
He implied that using live feeds from drones, social media, databases and other areas could help with decisions and dealing with live threats, but also shore up defences against cyber attacks.
Saying it was the area that concerns him most, he told the newspaper: “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,” he added.