30 Aug 13. The Territorials don’t have the skills to fight cyber war says IT entrepreneur.
Britain’s army reservists are being assigned to lead the drive against cyber war and online terrorism but according to one of the UK’s leading IT entrepreneurs they will not be up to the task.
“I can understand the thinking behind trying to harness the talents of Britain’s tech industries in the Territorial Army but the plans are dangerously flawed,” said Scott Fletcher
As Territorial Army numbers double, force will counter new threats posed by insurgency.
Reservists in the British Army will become specialists in cyber security, chemical-biological warfare and intelligence under sweeping reforms being carried out to transform the force in preparation for future conflicts.
The Territorial Army, whose size is being doubled from 15,000 to 30,000, will have a much more integrated role to counter the new threats presented by technology and WMDs in the hands of insurgents and rogue states. It will also be extensively engaged in gathering information under plans drawn up by the military.
Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, published a long awaited White Paper on the role of the TA which will be a third of the size of the regular army whose numbers are being reduced by 20,000 to 82,000 in budgetary cutbacks.
The numbers of Royal Navy and RAF reservists will also be increased, albeit on a smaller scale. The numbers of maritime reserves will rise to 3,100 and RAF auxiliary to 1,800 from 2,300 and 1,370 respectively.
The reservists will have enhanced training programmes intended to bring them closer to the standards of the regulars. It is hoped that putting some of them in the cutting-edge field of “intelligent defence” will be an incentive to join and stay in the force.
It is understood that the Treasury has blocked proposed tax breaks for employers of reservists, available in some states abroad. Instead, employers will receive an enhanced compensation package for staff who are absent on duty. Some reservists could be mobilised one in every five years, taking into account pre-deployment training, and the Government acknowledges that this cannot happen without the goodwill and co-operation of commerce and industry.
The Confederation of British Industry complained last year that it had not been properly consulted on the proposals with director general, John Cridland CBE, saying: “This is the biggest change for reserve soldiers since the Second World War… But we are disappointed by the lack of proper engagement so far.”
Whitehall officials insist that detailed consultation had subsequently followed, although more discussions needed to be held. The White Paper proposed that employers will have to sign up to a voluntary charter guaranteeing that they will not stand in the way of staff in the TA who have been deployed. They will also pledge to keep their jobs open. At one stage Mr Hammond had spoken about bringing in anti-discrimination laws such as those defending the rights of women and ethnic minorities to protect reservists, but has now decided against such legislation.
There is broad consensus among militaries in the West that cyber security has become a vital part of defence. The head of the Army, General Sir Peter Wall, stressed this when giving the keynote speech at the Land Warfare Conference at the Royal United Services Institute in London saying the threats presented by cyber space called for the armed forces to “think and act differently. Control of this domain and with it the ability to defend and attack in order to seize the initiative will be prerequisite for successful operations.”
However, Gen Wall also acknowledged that “The education and personal qualities of our cyber warriors are likely to be a challenge in more linear military behaviour and we therefore need to consider how we recruit and retain experts in the field.”
Military planners point out that these skill-sets already exist among civi