The chief of Defence Intelligence (DI) warned adversaries are developing new ways to influence and leverage, while also “supercharging more traditional techniques”.
Lieutenant-General Jim Hockenhull made the comments as he outlined threats facing the UK in the coming decades.
Speaking from the DI base in Cambridgeshire, he told journalists the West will be pressed to keep up with Russia, China and other global players continuing to challenge the existing order.
The character of warfare is also changing alongside a shifting global picture, according to Lt Gen Hockenhull, with the emergence of cyber and space as new military domains.
“Whilst conventional threats remain, we have seen our adversaries invest in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and other ground-breaking technologies, whilst also supercharging more traditional techniques of influence and leverage,” he said.
Usually operating in the shadows, recent developments have seen the group come to the fore – tracking threats and watching for instabilities worldwide before advising senior UK officials.
Accusations over the use of the Novichok nerve agent have been dismissed by Russia multiple times in recent years.
“As we have seen in Salisbury, hostile states are willing to take incredible risks,” the DI chief continued.
“We must make sure that we have both the intent and the capability to ensure that such wanton acts of irresponsibility will not go unpunished.”
DI are already working with the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which also includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, to deliver this capability.
In recent times, the group has shown its adaptability when faced with emerging threats.
During the coronavirus outbreak, DI shifted analysts from bio-hacking and overseas medical capability tasks to the more current threat posed by COVID-19.
Cover image: Lieutenant-General Jim Hockenhull (Picture: MOD).