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British Army Chief Reflects On Whether 'Cyber 9/11' Has Already Happened

General Mark Carleton-Smith was making his first speech as CGS.

The new Chief of the General Staff (CGS) General Mark Carleton-Smith has raised questions over whether technology might overtake terrain in warfare.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in central London, Gen Carleton-Smith posed the question whether "we haven't already suffered our cyber 9/11, but simply don't know it".

The CGS made the comments at the Land Warfare Conference - his first speech as head of the British Army.

While he did not set out specific plans, the cyber and hybrid threat featured heavily.

Gen Carleton-Smith gave his predictions for the future and stated the importance of Britain keeping pace with its adversaries.

"I'm interested in how we exploit the emerging opportunities in autonomy, robotics, and artificial intelligence," said the CGS.

"The advances in range, precision and the stealth of our platforms, our munitions and our sensors.

"Might technology eventually trump terrain?

"As the cycle of competition hots up and the pace of change accelerates, how do we avoid falling behind?"

He went on to say:

"I for a long time have wondered if we haven't already suffered our cyber 9/11, but simply don't know it."

Gen Carleton-Smith began the role of CGS earlier this month and is the Defence Secretary’s latest appointment.

He previously held the role of Commander of Task Force Helmand and is ex-Special Forces.

Also speaking at RUSI was former Foreign Secretary Lord Hague. He said a strategic race was coming:

"I believe that who is in the lead within the 2040s in AI will be as significant as who was in the lead with the atomic bomb."

The Assistant Chief of the General Staff, Major-General Rupert Jones, also spoke to Forces News about the importance of developing cyber capabilities.

"I think across Government, there's a recognition that we need to do more in the cyber environment. 

"We see our enemies using a range of threats against us and of course cyber is one of those things, so there's a considerable focus on what you might call 'information advantage'.  

"We've always maneuvered in the land, maneuvered on sea and in the last century we've maneuvered in the air - increasingly of course, what we have to do is operate in what people call the 'information world' and a cyber environment as well. So inevitably, the military is looking very closely at that at the moment." 

Also speaking at RUSI was former Foreign Secretary Lord Hague. He said a strategic race was coming:

"I believe that who is in the lead within the 2040s in AI will be as significant as who was in the lead with the atomic bomb

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