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Into The Grey Zone: China’s new technologies could ‘over-match’ the West’s strength, armed forces chief says

Written by on 28/02/2021

The UK needs to understand and deal with the risk of China developing new technologies that could “over-match” the West’s military strength, the head of the armed forces has said.

General Sir Nick Carter also talked about how the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are adapting to operate in the “grey zone” between war and peace.

He was speaking on Sky News’ Into The Grey Zone podcast.

Asked whether there is a risk a country such as China could develop a technological advantage over the West’s military dominance, General Carter said: “China is an extraordinary country for innovation and technological innovation, for that matter.

“And of course, there is always, in the character of warfare, a constant competition between opposing technologies to try and get match or over-match.

“So the answer is: Yes, that is definitely something that needs to be understood and dealt with.”

The chief of the defence staff offered a sense of how the military works in the grey zone.

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Instead of there being a distinction between being deployed on an operation and being based in the UK, he indicated that now anything a soldier, sailor, airman or Royal Marine does from training to deployments is designed to send a message.

“So what we might in the past have called an exercise is actually telegraphing a statement of intent or it is being used for other purposes,” General Carter said.

“And therefore, what you have to do is to recognise that that is actually a small tactical battle in this longer term campaign, which is about trying to have an impact upon your opponent.”

He acknowledged though, that the military can only play a supporting role to help the government deal with the full range of threats against the UK in the grey zone, which touches everything from academia and politics to the media and corporations.

“Ultimately it’s going to take other government departments and other instruments of statecraft,” General Carter said.

He said there is also a role for wider society to play in protecting the country’s values and freedoms from coming under attack, particularly from disinformation by hostile states.

“There needs to be a genuine desire by people to be really considered in what they believe and to think pretty hard about where that news is coming from and what it actually means,” he said.

“And then, you know, if it’s the wrong news, if it’s fake news, if it’s disinformation to call it out. And we should be up to calling it out because ultimately it undermines everything that we all stand for.”

The interview with General Carter was recorded for the podcast at the end of September 2020.

A small clip featured in the first episode of Into The Grey Zone, but episode eight, which is released today, contains the main portion of the interview.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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