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MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

29 June 2016

British Army Needs to Dominate Information Space

The UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon, has described how the country’s exit from the European Union (EU) will not adversely affect the British Army’s relationship with NATO, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) was told today.

Addressing members of the UK’s Armed Forces and international colleagues at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference on 29th June, Fallon stressed how the result of last weeks referendum did not change the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) “global outlook”, explaining how it would continue to fight terrorism; support counter-migration efforts; and counter-arms smuggling operations with with NATO, the UN and EU.

Also due to speak at the event was LTG Ben Hodges, Commander of US Army Europe, who in March suggested a British exit from the EU would have a negative impact on NATO. His position on a discussion panel on the first day of the Land Warfare Conference was cancelled at short notice.

Referring to the MoD’s Future Force 2025 for the British Army, Fallon described his three aspirations for the service, including integration; domination of information warfare; and internationalism; while highlighting associated technology requirements to assist developments.

According to Fallon, the future British Army must be integrated with the whole government, with threats encountered in the contemporary operating environment now crossing departmental boundaries.

Security agencies, the Home Office, Police and other key government departments would need to collaborate more than ever to shape and inform governmental decision making; supporting national resilience; and stabilising overseas territories by improving partners abilities to deal with terrorism, he described.

Second, the British Army needs to dominate the Information Space, Fallon proclaimed. Describing how the army currently masters the physical terrain, he warned that further work was required to enhance capabilities in areas such as Cyber Warfare; Social Media; and Open Source Intelligence.

The army of the future must be plugged into the digital age to translate virtual bits into physical atoms, [with intelligence] emerging from multiple receptors capable of deploying real time information to disrupt adveraries capabilities, inform decision-making and deliver faster truth to our public,” he continued.

Additionally, Fallon highlighted 77 and 1 ISR Brigades as the “Pioneers of Information Warfare” and called upon these relatively new force structures to define tactics, techniques and procedures for the wider army as well as provide more, “flexible terms of employment; breaking down barriers in organisation; and providing greater access to expertise of UK assets worldwide.”

That impact will, in time, be revolutionary,” Fallon urged.

Finally, Fallon said the British Army would remain “international by design”, describing how if necessary, it would be capable of operating alone and if required, also in a better position to work with global coalition partners.

No matter what the result of the referendum, we will remain a major international power with global responsibilities and continue to be leading members of NATO, the UN Security Council, Commonwealth and Five Eyes intelligence alliance,’ amongst others," Fallon explained.

Describing the contemporary operating environment, Fallon explained how “tens of thousands” of Iraqi and Kurdish security personnel had been trained as part of wider counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaigns as well as support of Nigerian forces to counter Boko Haram in West Africa as well as what he dubbed “essential support” to the UK’s Ukrainian allies.

We have to have a strong army out in front to lead the way,” Fallon stressed.

Regarding specific equipment procurement, Fallon explained how November’s Strategic Defence and Security Review had pledged GBP12billion for the British Army over the next five years in order to support the MoD’s two new Strike Brigades; reconfigured specialist infantry battalions; counter-terrorism and stability operations overseas.

Fallon informed delegates how the army would be able to call upon sufficient firepower to match additional manpower with digitally enhanced AJAX vehicles; mechanised infantry fighting vehicles; upgraded APACHE attack and CHINOOK transport helicopters; and “cutting edge” UAVs.

Referring to the latter, Fallon revealed the MoD had today, signed a GBP80million support contract with Thales as part of the ongoing WK450 WATCHKEEPER programme.

We know what our future force will look like but questions today go much deeper. How can we make sure the army has the ability to react to a wide range of threats, simultaneously from the East or South; from conventional threats or cyber warfare,” Fallon asked?

Fallon described how the British Army would next year lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF)- the spearhead of the NATO Response Force (NRF)- the former of which was inaugurated in 2014.

Additionally, he proclaimed the British Army as the only international force element capable of integrated a Division into the US Army Order of Battle, which he said would continue to be further developed in the future.

Fallon also proclaimed future cooperation with the French MoD and highlighted future cooperation including the evaluation of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.

I want the Army 2025 to be the partner of choice for smaller nations with greater operations for sharper and speedier response against our adversaries,” Fallon added while referring to more than 100 training tasks conducted over the first half of 2016 in countries stretching from Belize and Burkina Faso, to Egypt, Sierra Leone, Singapore and most recently, Ukraine.

Finally, Fallon called for the army in 2025 to see the successful inclusion of 10% ethnic minorities as well as 15 per cent inclusion of women, although he stressed such a force mix was much more than numerical requirements.

We need to bring their skills to every part of the army and every corner of the World where our people serve,” Fallon concluded.