“The risk of threats manifesting is higher now than recent decades,” says Maj Gen Ben Kite to DSEI
Updated: May 27
The latest instalment of the DSEI Defence Leaders Webinars was centred on how Western land forces, and in particular the UK Armed Forces, need to meet equipment requirements to keep pace with the ever-evolving threats of the modern battlespace.
The webinar, entitled ‘The British Army’s Equipment Requirements,’ was chaired by Major General Ben Kite OBE, Director of Intelligence and Interoperability for the UK Ministry of Defence. Panellists included Dr Rod Thornton, Senior Lecturer at King’s College London; Iain Harrison, Director of Strategic Engagement Land at Qinetiq, and Sam Cranny-Evans, Editor of Jane’s Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
The panellists agreed that the threat posed by Russia is foremost in the discussion surrounding the development of NATO’s land warfare capability. Regarding the situation on the Ukrainian border, Dr Rod asserted that the Russian military “perceive that they need to avoid any kind of contact, any kind of conflict with NATO because they see themselves as being far weaker than NATO forces, especially in terms of NATO air power.” The Russian use of Anti-Access Area Denial (A2AD) Umbrellas is predicated on the need to prevent any kind of NATO incursion into Russian territory, and Russia’s aggressive stance is not a kinetic one, meaning that misinformation and soft kill capabilities are their priority.
Speaking on the need to maintain strategic advantage, Iain Harrison emphasised the importance of “readiness and deployability,” as well as “manpower, equipment, training and sustainability.” In tactical terms, Iain highlighted the need to be able to counter and operate simultaneously within the context of long-range fires tactics favoured by the Russian land forces.
Sam Cranny-Evans stressed the importance of an integrated battlespace being the key to countering Russia, as “NATO has enormous amounts of precision missiles compared to Russia…in many cases the land forces actually rely on the air for their critical lethality on the battlefield.” Due to the Russian emphasis on countering NATO’s air power, land forces would largely be operating in isolation on the ground, though they would be unlikely to be under fire from Russian aircraft.
The panellists also discussed the nascent developments in land warfare technology such as hybrid electric drive, AI, automation and cyber, as well as the precedence of lethality over protection in heavy metal.