Commander of Strategic Command, General Sir Patrick Sanders (Picture: MOD).
Cyber

'Security outlook more perilous than two years ago', Strategic Command chief says

General Sir Patrick Sanders: "We need to become much more adept at operating with agility across this grey zone."

Commander of Strategic Command, General Sir Patrick Sanders (Picture: MOD).

General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of the UK's Strategic Command (UKStratCom), is calling for the UK military to become "more adept at operating with agility" throughout the grey zone of the modern battlespace.

As Commander of UKStratCom, he leads the cyber domain for defence and manages allocated joint capabilities from the three armed services.

Speaking at this year's DSEI show, Gen Sanders outlined the twin threats of "emboldened Jihadi terrorists" and "a growing authoritarian zeitgeist that celebrates the suppression of political and individual freedom as a better way to govern".

He named these authoritarian regimes as Russia and China, who are now seeking to "win without fighting" by using political warfare. 

Gen Sanders said: "We can respond to these threats at a national level by being more strategic, more assertive, by modernising and by being more integrated across domains, nationally, with partners across Government, industry, academia and civil society, and, of course, internationally, with allies and partners. 

"We need to become much more adept at operating with agility across this grey zone."

Gen Sanders outlined how the military needs to gain battlefield advantage by its "ability to sense, understand and orchestrate across domains at a tempo faster than the enemy".

To succeed, he said, UK forces need to apply "Machine Learning and AI to exploit data, support decision-making and enable expendable autonomous systems and swarming".

"It will be more about drones and missiles, than manned platforms."

An area Gen Sanders highlighted for development was the use of social media, saying the military's use needs to become more proactive, "to deliver consistent, pervasive and also targeted messages".

"We also need to 'operate' through social media platforms with much greater agility, countering adversarial campaigns through a range of fora, including using third parties if necessary.

"Taken a step further, we may wish to generate social reaction 'on the ground'. To do all of this, we need a deeper understanding of our audiences."