British Military Chief: World Has Seen Return Of Military 'Competition' Between Superpowers

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) says the world must be wary of escalation in some of the globe's current trouble spots.

Speaking to Forces News, General Sir Nick Carter looked back on a year in defence and touched on some of the threats moving forward.

The head of the UK Armed Forces said there has been a return to military competition between superpowers, and that "the defining condition is one of instability".

"That's not something one would have said perhaps 15 or 20 years ago, and the reason for this is the return to, what I think was called 'great power competition' - and was really a feature of the first decade of the last century", he said.

"Now, I think in that competition, nobody wants to go to war in the traditional definition of the term, but of course the risk is always miscalculation and you can easily see unwarranted escalation occurring from some of the conflicts that are underway at the moment."

The CDS said he believes there is a total of 410 non-international conflicts around the world, and "any of those could be the tinder that sparks some form of conflagration".

When asked about some of the 2019 moments which stood out to him - the 75th anniversary of D-Day came to mind, "for all sorts of good reasons".

"One always thinks of course of the bravery of those who assaulted the beaches, and those who protected them from above and got them onto the beaches from the sea, but also because D-Day was the most impressive national enterprise", he said.

"I think so many of the challenges that we're confronted with these days, and will be in the future, need an approach which looks like a national enterprise to solve them."

For General Sir Nick Carter, it was also a time for reflection, and to pay tribute to those who recently lose their lives.

A D-Day 75 commemorative event in Portsmouth earlier this year (Picture:MOD).
A D-Day 75 commemorative event in Portsmouth earlier this year (Picture: MOD).

"And of course, thinking of D-Day made me think hard about the recent death of Field Marshal [Lord] Bramall - one of our finest and greatest soldiers who won a military cross in the D-Day campaign.

"And others have died recently, which I think make me pause for reflection.

"Sir Michael Howard - probably one of our greatest ever military historians, and a very inspiring figure, Major Mandy Islam, who has been incredibly brave with her illness, and I think has really set an example for so many of us that bears reflection, I think, and we think of her family at this very moment in time."

The Chief of the Defence Staff also praised families for their constant love and support.

"I've done tours away from home myself, and the thing that springs first to mind are the families," he said.

"When we go abroad, and we're in these operational theatres, we're with our other family - and our other family are the team, the section, the platoon, the squadron, the ship, whatever else it might be that we're serving with, and it's easier for us I think.

"But having said that, of course, they'll be missing their loved ones and our thoughts are very much with them as they are with the families as well and we thank them for their service."