British Armed Forces must “win the information battle”

Harry Lye 19 February 2020 (Last Updated February 19th, 2020 14:42)

At the inaugural conference for the UK’s new Strategic Command (UKSTRATCOM) held at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), armed forces leaders said the UK must modernise to maintain an information advantage.

British Armed Forces must “win the information battle”
Defence Minister James Heappey told the conference that winning the information battle was increasingly important for the UK’s Armed Forces. Image: MOD Crown Copyright.

At the inaugural conference for the UK’s new Strategic Command (UKSTRATCOM) held at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), armed forces leaders said the UK must modernise to maintain an information advantage.

The conference set out the ambitions of the new UK Strategic Command – the successor to the Joint Forces Command (JFC) that acted across all three branches of the British Armed Forces.

Delivering a keynote speech to kick off the conference, Defence Minister James Heappey said: “It’s no longer enough to have a battle-winning edge in terms of firepower; there’s a responsibility to win the information battle.

“It’s no longer enough to have highly complex systems; you need all of the data that comes from that system in order to get a better understanding of what the enemy is doing and what the opportunities are to exploit and win the battle.”

Strategic Command was formally launched in 2019 and is tasked with ‘generating and developing’ capabilities across land, air, sea, space and cyber as well as managing the UK’s joint forces operations.

Heappey added: “It’s no longer enough to just fight successfully in individual domains. Winning the fight of the future requires integration across land, sea, air, cyber and space. Strategic Command will give us that edge.”

At the conference, defence officials, academics, industry and government discussed a range of topics including how integration across the defence sector can be improved as well as the ‘grey zone’ of conflict and how threats in cyber can be countered.

Commander Strategic Command General Sir Patrick Sanders said: “Strategic Command will transition the industrial age Joint Force to the Information Age’s Integrated Force. We will strengthen the foundations of integration within the current force and experiment and develop the capabilities and structures required for the 2030s and beyond.

“This will be achieved in three priority areas: cyber, special forces and multi-domain integration, all are transformative, all are essential.”

Heappey explained the need to create Strategic Command, saying: “There was plenty of success in what Joint Forces Command (JFC) did, but JFC was right for its time and focussed on jointery, whereas Strategic Command’s focus is integration.”