Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 June 2019

British Army head warns UK must invest in defence to match Russia

General Sir Nick Carter will make the warning in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute

General Sir Nick Carter has warned about the threat on "Europe's doorstep". Natalia Kolesnikova/ AFP Photo
General Sir Nick Carter has warned about the threat on "Europe's doorstep". Natalia Kolesnikova/ AFP Photo

Britain’s must invest in the military or its ability to respond to enemy threats such as cyber-attacks will be eroded, the head of the British Army has warned.

General Sir Nick Carter will point to countries such as Russia as adversaries that have leapt ahead of the UK in terms of advancing its military when he gives a speech at the Royal United Services Institute on Monday.

Russia has been blamed for launching cyber warfare efforts in Britain as well as meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

“Our ability to pre-empt or respond to threats will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries. State-based competition is now being employed in more novel and increasingly integrated ways and we must be ready to deal with them,” Gen Carter will say during the speech, which has been approved by UK defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

“The threats we face are not thousands of miles away but are now on Europe’s doorstep – we have seen how cyber warfare can be both waged on the battlefield and to disrupt normal people’s lives. We in the UK are not immune from that.”

Echoing calls from senior politicians and military figures, Gen Carter’s comments appear to be a warning to the government against making further cuts to defence spending.

Reports have suggested that the government is planning on cutting staffing levels by around 10 per cent, partly by combining the elite units of paratroopers and the Royal Marines.

“We must take notice of what is going on around us or our ability to take action will be massively constrained. Speed of decision-making, speed of deployment and modern capability are essential if we wish to provide a realistic deterrence,” he will say.

“The time to address these threats is now – we cannot afford to sit back.”

Traditional threats still remain, Gen Carter will say, in reference to the Russian army conducting grand military exercises including simulated attacks last year in Northern Europe.

He will add that Russia has long-range missile firing capabilities, which it has used in Syria.

Some politicians have called for Britain to increase its defence spending up from the current two per cent to three per cent of gross domestic product.

However, the government have said two per cent is enough to tackle the threats the UK faces.

“We’re one of the countries that meets our two per cent commitment, we are also of course a leading member of NATO,” Alan Duncan, a foreign minister, told reporters.

“I’m confident within that two per cent and our entire defence attitude we address all modern risks and I’m confident the UK is safe.”

Updated: January 22, 2018 04:49 PM