Army

British Military Risks 'Irrelevance' In Future Warfare, Army Chief Says

General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith made the comments at at the annual RUSI Land Warfare Conference.

The British military must update itself or risk becoming irrelevant, the Chief of the General Staff has warned.

General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said the UK should focus more on how it fights rather than what equipment it fights with.

He made the comments in front of personnel and dignitaries at the annual Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Land Warfare Conference in Central London.

"What we need now is an urgent reappraisal of how, with what and by whom war is waged in the future.

"And how our capabilities are going to be arranged in a contemporary deterrent and containment framework.

"Rules of warfare are changing and need updating and which without correction, potentially leaves us close to a position of dominant irrelevance."

Gen Sir Carleton-Smith said it could be possible in future that armies are "no longer distinguished by the volume of their hardware", but how software and artificial intelligence is used.

General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith made the comments in front of personnel and dignitaries at an annual land warfare conference in Central London.
General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith made the comments in front of personnel and dignitaries at an annual land warfare conference in central London.

From interference in elections, to using drones to carry out airstrikes, the geography and politics of conflict is rapidly changing.

While AI, cyber and hybrid warfare is essential to compete, it may not actually be all that is needed to win a war.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, also speaking at the RUSI conference, said: "The reality is, the world is changing and the threats increasing from a diverse range of sources. As earlier speakers have said, cyber attack is now the new normal.

"Between 2016 and 2017, NATO saw such attacks on its infrastructure increasing by 60%.

"Whether the origin is Russia, China or North Korea…or from hacktivists, criminals or extremists…the cyber threat can bring down our national infrastructure and undermine our democracy."

British soldier (Picture: Crown Copyright).
(Picture: Crown Copyright).

In Westminster - a cross-government spending review is imminent, and beyond that, the MOD could well be asked to take yet another look at its equipment.

With hardware costly, and budgets tight, fighting the fight in the information pace may not just be about bringing the army into the future, but also making it more affordable.