UK to look to army reserves for cyber security specialists

Army reservists will become specialists in cyber security as part of an overhaul announced by defence secretary Philip Hammond

The UK is to look to army reservists to become specialists in cyber security as part of an overhaul aimed at transforming the force announced by defence secretary Philip Hammond.

The Territorial Army – to be renamed Army Reserves – is to be doubled in size to 30,000 and will have a role in countering new technological threats and gathering information, according to the Independent.

The plan is offer reservists enhanced training programmes to bring them closer to the standards of the regular force members.

Hammond told the House of Commons the changes were key to ensuring the UK has the military capability it needs in the coming years, with cyber security a vital part of national defence.

Army chief, general Peter Wall told the Land Warfare Conference in London last week that the threats and opportunities presented by cyber space call for the armed forces to think and act differently.

Control of this domain and the ability to defend and attack to seize the initiative will be prerequisite for successful operations, he said.

“These cyber capabilities have to be fully integrated into our planning and command and control arrangements,” said Wall.

“The education and personal qualities of our cyber warrior are likely to be a challenge to more linear military behaviour and we therefore need to consider how we recruit and retain experts in this field.”

The newly unveiled reform plan recognises these skill sets already exist among civilians who can bring them to the military as reservists while continuing their professional careers outside.

Ross Parsell, director of cyber security at Thales UK, said that, by reskilling its existing force in cyber security, the army is addressing the blurring of the lines between physical and virtual defence.

“With the advent of cyber espionage and attacks which threaten national critical infrastructure, the need for a holistic approach to national security is long overdue," said Parsell.

“It’s great to see the army taking its share of responsibility for this alongside its traditional physical defence remit.”

Parsell said the move will help in positioning public sector cyber security as an attractive career prospect for the next generation.

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