Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter arrives in Downing Street, London, ahead of coronavirus meeting 120320 CREDIT PA
Space

Armed Forces Chief Warns Of Military Threat From Space

General Sir Nick Carter said future warfare will be "about space, cyber, maritime, land and air".

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter arrives in Downing Street, London, ahead of coronavirus meeting 120320 CREDIT PA

The need to compete in space and cyber space will blur traditional divisions between the Armed Forces, Britain’s most senior military officer has suggested.

General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said that in future conflicts information technology – and the "digital backbone" to support it – will be key military capabilities.

"We have all grown up with the traditional domains of army, navy, air force. The future is going to be about space, cyber, maritime, land and air," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"The Armed Forces that are best able to integrate across those five domains will be the ones that prevail in the future.

"So much of that is going to be delivered through information technology and through what we would call a ‘digital backbone’ to enable it.

"That, to be honest, is going be the sort of key capability that you are going to need to succeed in the future."

His comments echo Defence Secretary Ben Wallace who has said the current Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy will address military threats in space from China and Russia.

Last month, the UK accused Russia of launching a "projectile with the characteristics of a weapon" during a satellite test.

The US also condemned the action, describing it as a test of an anti-satellite weapon. Russia denied the accusations

Gen Carter said the changing character of warfare – blurring the distinctions between peace and war – meant the forces would need to recruit more people who could think "out of the box".

Ben Wallace in Downing Street
The Defence Secretary said the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy will address military threats in space from China and Russia (Picture: PA).

"The battlefield is becoming ever more complex and our opponents are becoming ever more cunning in the way they seek to defeat us. We do need people who think out of the box. We need people who are slightly maverick in their ideas," he said.

"Some of our opponents use those grey areas between peace and war as a means of achieving their ends.

"We, therefore, as Armed Forces, working in conjunction and integrated with various agencies across Government, need to be able to compete in that grey zone between peace and war in order to make sure that our opponents don’t achieve the advantages they so often want to achieve."

In March, the newly-formed US Space Force launched its first mission.

The force became the US' sixth military branch in December 2019. 

Cover image: General Sir Nick Carter (Picture: PA).