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Top general calls for new cyber-army

#1
From The Sunday Times
January 17, 2010
Top general calls for new cyber-army

General Sir David Richards, the chief of the general staff, says future wars will require fewer tanks and ships but more high-tech troops
Michael Smith
RECOMMEND?
THE head of the British Army has foreshadowed the biggest change in fighting tactics since the cavalry was phased out in favour of tanks more than 80 years ago.

General Sir David Richards, the chief of the general staff, wants more troops, unmanned spy planes and high-tech cyber-defences to be paid for by slashing the budget for ships and fighter jets.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Richards said the UK’s armed forces were facing a new “horse versus tank moment” to cope with the challenges of modern warfare. The success of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the emerging threat of cyber-attacks against Britain’s infrastructure made radical change unavoidable. “People say I’m only talking about war with non-state actors,” said Richards. “I’m not. I’m saying this is how even war between states is more likely to be fought in the future.”

The general’s views, particularly his call for fewer ships, aircraft and also tanks, may put him on a collision course with other armed forces chiefs. Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the head of the navy, recently argued that the focus on Afghanistan risked leaving Britain exposed to other threats
More
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6991030.ece
 
#3
Hmm I wonder if someone from the Navy says less troops and fighter jets and more ships, they someone from the RAF can say less ships and troops and more fighter jets.

Having just read the article it would seem that's the correct course of action if Afghanistan was the only place the British army will ever deploy to, anywhere else and the rules will change.
 
#4
This is a valid point,

Richards said he lived in “the real world” and envisages significant spending cuts in the defence review — but argued that good soldiers are far cheaper to maintain than ships and aircraft

Mr Stanhope has a point also, and a skeleton sea & air support is globally useless if it's only a harbour patrol and 2nd rate jet force.
 
#5
Surprising isn't it? The soldier want to protect investment in the Army.
The sailor wants to protect ships
The pilot want fast jets


And so on and so forth. For etertnity.

I want a strong, balanced defence for the United Kingdom. None of the three services can provide that in isolation from each other.
 
#6
And from where, pray tell, is this cyber-army going to come?

Good IT security people are expensive. Even if you commissioned them all, you'd have a hard time recruiting and retaining them. That, and the fact that good security is designed into a system, not sticking-plastered on top. I don't know what the present state of play is in this regard, but what's being proposed isn't going to be cheap - even if a 100% sy audit and system redesign isn't necessary.
 
#7
Cyber defence in the form of 100% sy audits and system redesign (if required) already happens in the MOD, as you would expect, with all 3 services having some type of capability. In fact most MOD systems are fairly well protected for both network intrusion and resilience compared to the commercial world.
I think either Gen Richards or the bloke who wrote the article is also getting confused between MOD assets and Britain's infrastructure. Protecting networks for the rest of the Critical National Infrastructure is not the job of the armed forces; nor are they needed because all Government owned parts of the CNI already have fairly decent security standards in place, in fact the MOD standards are derived from them. Other parts of the CNI that are not Government owned but are nevertheless critical (energy, water, etc) have adopted near identical standards on a voluntary basis, and the security managers of such companies may attend free CPNI training courses to ensure standardisation across the whole sector.
However, if Richards was to fund an aggressive cyber attack capability, for the UK to attack other countries in TTW, now that would definitely be worth having...
 
#8
Slightly_Nasty said:
However, if Richards was to fund an aggressive cyber attack capability, for the UK to attack other countries in TTW, now that would definitely be worth having...
Mwaaaaaahah! Sorry. Snurgh, snigger, snurgh.

We'll not have that discussion here. I get in to trouble whenever I point out the realities to people how live in the political vortex of the MoD.

Sorry, I am obliged to add that Tony Blair stated, apparently in the House, that we have no offensive cyber-warfare capability.
 
#9
Was part of the call was also for more technically qualified troops full stop ? That would mean a change in recruiting standards - too many of our troops are not far off functionally illiterate.

I'll get pelters for this - but the conscript Danes I served with were, man for man, on average - better than their Brit infantry counterparts - because they were all brighter. Easier to teach, quicker on the uptake and able to operate equipment better. Just as aggressive - but brighter.

....the Americans on the other hand....yea Gods, what sort of Edumacation system have they got ? Half their troops can't speak, let alone read.
 
#10
Slightly_Nasty said:
Cyber defence in the form of 100% sy audits and system redesign (if required) already happens in the MOD, as you would expect, with all 3 services having some type of capability. In fact most MOD systems are fairly well protected for both network intrusion and resilience compared to the commercial world.
I think either Gen Richards or the bloke who wrote the article is also getting confused between MOD assets and Britain's infrastructure. Protecting networks for the rest of the Critical National Infrastructure is not the job of the armed forces; nor are they needed because all Government owned parts of the CNI already have fairly decent security standards in place, in fact the MOD standards are derived from them. Other parts of the CNI that are not Government owned but are nevertheless critical (energy, water, etc) have adopted near identical standards on a voluntary basis, and the security managers of such companies may attend free CPNI training courses to ensure standardisation across the whole sector.
However, if Richards was to fund an aggressive cyber attack capability, for the UK to attack other countries in TTW, now that would definitely be worth having...
Yeah, I'd thought (hoped?) something like that was the case.

OTOH, the question of an aggressive cyber-warfare capability is interesting. The next logical development in EW? I suspect the NSA and GCHQ have probably made some (very quiet) steps in this direction already....
 
#11
beemer007 said:
This is a valid point,

Richards said he lived in “the real world” and envisages significant spending cuts in the defence review — but argued that good soldiers are far cheaper to maintain than ships and aircraft
Mr Stanhope has a point also, and a skeleton sea & air support is globally useless if it's only a harbour patrol and 2nd rate jet force.
Good soldiers are cheaper than ships and aircraft - WAH!!!

When I was a soldier I don't recall flying as part of field craft or swimming the Atlantic as part of the swimming test; The Falklands would have been a bit of a swim!!

When it's close up and personal - the soldier IS IT.

When lines are drawn on the FEBA the RA come into their own - providing the forward observer is not dyslexic.

But when you're moving very fast and find yourself against substantial odds the air support can make a difference in both transport and fire power and yes that includes the AAC as well as the RAF.

Conflict on the hoof has been part of most recent major conflicts and therefore external perceptions, ( I include MPs in the ‘external’ ), is that we can reduce Air and Sea and maintain effectiveness. As was stated by stacker1

stacker1 said:
Having just read the article it would seem that's the correct course of action if Afghanistan was the only place the British army will ever deploy to, anywhere else and the rules will change.
Lets face it – it’s not about the defence capability of our nation or contribution to our neighbors or allies – it’s ALL about this gubments squandering of the nations wealth and being unable to ‘buy’ votes before the next election.

I deeply miss serving and the ‘crack’, but that aside, I can empathise with the situation of HM Forces today – hopefully the next government, irrespective of party, will correct the years of neglect.
 
#12
i think it seems logical to slow down spending in the navy and RAF, and increase it in the army. after all, the squaddies are the blokes who have to put up with dodgy and cheap kit, but the airy fairies are flying multi million pound jets. while the budget balance is stupid, you can't really abandon the other two for being close to obsolete now, no one actually knows what will happen in the next 20 years. has no one watched torchwood? the 21st century is when it all changes! basically, stop pissing vast sums of money into a couple of hundred new boats and planes, because the capability of what we have now is fine. give the money instead not to chavs and wastrels but to the army. get them some decent kit ffs.
 
#13
saladin said:
Was part of the call was also for more technically qualified troops full stop ? That would mean a change in recruiting standards - too many of our troops are not far off functionally illiterate.

I'll get pelters for this - but the conscript Danes I served with were, man for man, on average - better than their Brit infantry counterparts - because they were all brighter. Easier to teach, quicker on the uptake and able to operate equipment better. Just as aggressive - but brighter.

....the Americans on the other hand....yea Gods, what sort of Edumacation system have they got ? Half their troops can't speak, let alone read.
To be honest, the British Army problem is more of a large scale reluctance to fund the training, the vast majority of which would have to be commercially provided. I accept that some troops are not too educationally qualified (like some civvies) but in these days of digital comms, sophisticated weapons systems, battlefield first aid, convoluted rules of engagement, etc, the average British squaddie has to be fairly bright, and most are.
Don't forget also that we wouldn't need everyone to be an IT specialist, in the same way that we don't need everyone to be an EW, EOD or weapons specialist. There are plenty of suitable people, we just haven't got the funding or political will to exploit them properly yet. There is also an argument that the Army is reluctant to train soldiers in state of the art industry standard software because they would all put their papers in and earn big bucks in civvy street. At the time that I did the Army's computer forensic course, the commercial world had been using Encase forensic software for 5 years. It was the best, but cost £1500 per licence. The Army's answer was to teach us with a £20 copy of Norton Utilities; this would take someone several months to forensically search an average sized hard drive, but at least there was no demand for it in civvy street.
You will also find that a large proportion of US soldiers come from dirt poor backgrounds and only joined in the first place in order to qualify for the college grant that they are entitled to after a stipulated period of service (6 years I think - used to be called the GI Bill). That is why so many of them don't have much of an education at the lower ranks.
As for the Danes, never worked alongside them, but used to regularly ogle their women in Bosnia :)
 
#14
Skynet said:
From The Sunday Times
January 17, 2010
Top general calls for new cyber-army
I have had a fair degree of contempt for the Sunday Times as a fifth-rate rag since even before the Dirty Digger got his paws on it, and prefixing everything with "cyber-" is usually a good sign that somebody is spouting bollocks about things they don't understand. That seems to be the case here. I strongly doubt that General Richards is such a howling ******** that he thinks infantry combat is going to be changed out of all recognition by a few UAVs and some digital circuitry, but that is the imbecile technophile vision the journo who wrote this is straining to imply. The basic message "need more soldiers" should not be allowed to be obscured by dim-witted technology-worship.

As to the good general's apparent beliefs about contemporary shifts in ways of making war, I commend this year's Trench Gascoigne prize-winning essay in the current RUSI journal.

All the best,

John.
 
#16
Slightly_Nasty said:
There are plenty of suitable people, we just haven't got the funding or political will to exploit them properly yet.
Oh, I don't know - SGRS, anybody?

There is also an argument that the Army is reluctant to train soldiers in state of the art industry standard software because they would all put their papers in and earn big bucks in civvy street.
Indeed - exactly what happens with whatever they're calling AISU these days. 215 MI?

At the time that I did the Army's computer forensic course, the commercial world had been using Encase forensic software for 5 years. It was the best, but cost £1500 per licence. The Army's answer was to teach us with a £20 copy of Norton Utilities; this would take someone several months to forensically search an average sized hard drive, but at least there was no demand for it in civvy street.
Dunno when your course was but we've had enCase since just before Telic 1. I've deployed it to assist with various things - other people have used it on ops, in major investigations etc.

Cyber defence in the form of 100% sy audits and system redesign (if required) already happens in the MOD, as you would expect, with all 3 services having some type of capability. In fact most MOD systems are fairly well protected for both network intrusion and resilience compared to the commercial world.
Snicker - if only. Oh, sorry - you actually mean that, don't you :? It's not rose tinted specs - somebody's covered your's with black nasty, haven't they.

Any vague appearance of competence is only because the MOD is generally only interested in talking to itself. Pretty much wherever it tries to connect to other bodies - govt or the interwebs, it runs in to the same problems that the rest of the world has - just with no money left, a bunch of well meaning middle managers who'd much rather be in Afg than Abbey Wood or Andover. About the only advantage it has is that it is large enough (and we're used to doing anti-social duties) that it runs a 24x7 SOC. Which is great until you realise that most attacks are now at the application layer which makes them very difficult to spot with centralised network based tools (regardless of whether it is the RAF using them or Microsoft.)
 
#17
msr said:
Slightly_Nasty said:
In fact most MOD systems are fairly well protected for both network intrusion and resilience compared to the commercial world.
Apart from this one? http://news.zdnet.co.uk/security/0,1000000189,39292312,00.htm

msr
The TAFMIS laptop story from last year is clear evidence of fuckwitedness, but it doesn't have anything to do with network intrusion and resilience. As Slightly-Nasty says MOD isn't perfect in these areas (see here, for example). But it's a lot better than most of the commercial world and almost all other government departments.

Don
 
#18
Idrach said:
Which is great until you realise that most attacks are now at the application layer which makes them very difficult to spot with centralised network based tools (regardless of whether it is the RAF using them or Microsoft.)
It seems to have been a weakness in Microsoft IE that allowed the Google hacks. Germany's so concerned it's now advising people not to use it.

I can't see how it will make much difference how well the application is managed if it's fundamentally insecure. How many MoD/Armed Forces networks run a Microsoft suite?
 
#20
Whilst the latest technological gadgets can help increase effectiveness, the biggest problem we have is a lack of numbers of infantry on the ground to effectively hold it. By looking at hyper-expensive toys we lose the ability to deploy sufficient numbers of men. This isn't begrudging the RAF and the Navy, we need them too.
 

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