UK

Armed Forces Chief: 'Relentless Focus On Delivery' Needed In Reshaping Military

General Sir Nick Carter also said traditional capabilities will remain "relevant for some time to come".

The Chief of the Defence Staff has warned the military will need a "relentless focus on delivery" and also continued "stable funding" to deliver the new Integrated Review.

General Sir Nick Carter has been making his first public comments on last week's Defence Command Paper which will reshape the UK Armed Forces.

In a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), he set out his reasoning for cuts to Army numbers and older equipment, opting to instead invest in new technologies.

Gen Sir Nick set out his views on UK military reform and defence innovation, explaining how a programme of experimentation will be the foundation to future capabilities.

He said some risk was acceptable in the current force structure to "create headroom" for investment for the future.

"In principle, we have got the opportunity now to look to 2030, sure in the knowledge that we have a reasonably stable programme," he said.

"Now, that means that we can accept some risk in our current force structure in order to create headroom to invest in our future force structure and, indeed, to utilise the significant uplift we've had in research and development funding to look properly to the future."

The General also stressed that investment in software would soon become as important as any major traditional investment in hardware.

General Sir Nick Carter made the comments in a speech to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (Picture: IISS).

"I think we should also recognise as we look forwards, the software is going to be as important as hardware in determining what our Armed Forces will be capable of in the future.

"I think, put simply, it's all about data, the internet of things will collect it, the cloud will host it, robotic processing will automate it and artificial intelligence will apply it."

He added: "I think one of the most important additions to our defence inventory is a new digital foundry that will provide technical know-how and allow for rapid adaptation and innovation.

"In the future, I think data scientists are going to be found at almost every level in our Armed Forces, they are going to be the new Afghan interpreters which give you the turnkey capacity to be able to maximise adaptability and innovation."

Setting out his predictions for future conflicts, Gen Sir Nick said: "I personally think the future battlefield is going to be about a competition between hiding and finding much more so than it has been in the past.

"I think there are some pointers towards this from what we've seen played out over the last five years in Ukraine and what we've also seen recently Nagorno-Karabakh.

"I think it's showing us that mass can potentially be a weakness, as, of course, are single points of failure and I think this may well challenge some of the traditional principles of war."

However, the General also stressed that some changes in priority did not mean that more "analogue capabilities" are obsolete.

"Let's not lose sight as we modernise, of what I'll call some of the analogue capabilities, as distinct from the digital capabilities, because they are still going to be relevant to us in all sorts of ways, perhaps not quite in the same quantities, but they'll still be relevant for some time to come."

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