Defence chief urges “smarter” strategies to manage changing security environment

Chief of defence staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton (pictured left) calls for “smarter” thinking on big data and finance in the Ministry of Defence 

By Sarah.Aston

18 Dec 2014

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) must adapt to the “demands of 21st century defence” with “smarter” risk strategies and “efficient” spending, Sir Nicholas Houghton has said.

In his annual address to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Houghton said that achieving greater national security would only be effective if “we make the right decisions over the next 12 months”.

He said: “The challenge is not to preserve and protect the old ways of doing things; but rather to do new things better, and in the context of finite resources.”

This means moving away from “doggedly” clinging to traditional risk assessment techniques tied to “ships, planes, tanks and personnel”, Houghton said.

Instead, Houghton said, the MoD must focus on the impact of digital threats.

“I believe that few people genuinely understand the exponential threat that is being brought about by the potential of big data, the internet of things, the advent of super-fast connectivity, miniaturisation, autonomy and robotics.

“And even fewer people can comprehend the impact it will have on capability,” he said.

Another area of focus, Houghton added, should be on efficient spending.

Spending money on the “right things”, thinking more commercially and ensuring there is enough money to “use the capability you create” must be priorities for the MoD, Houghton said.

“Defence is hugely improved in this respect, but it is not there yet where it needs to be."

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