Prime Minister Boris Johnson said before the publication of a national security review next week that the UK needs to improve its ability to conduct cyber attacks on foreign adversaries.
According to media reports, Johnson will present a long-term review of national security strategy to parliament on Tuesday, which could result in a reduction in armed forces personnel.
“Cyber power is revolutionizing the way we live our lives and fight our wars, just as air power did 100 years ago,” Johnson said in a statement released by his office on Saturday.
In 2019, the United Kingdom spent $59 billion on defense, or 2.1 percent of GDP, higher than any other major European country but much less than the United States, which spent 3.5 percent of GDP.
While Britain has recently invested heavily in expensive aircraft carriers and retains nuclear warheads, its ground forces have shrunk since the end of the Cold War.
“The review will set out the importance of cyber technology to our way of life – whether it’s defeating our enemies on the battlefield, making the internet a safer place or developing cutting-edge tech to improve people’s lives,” Johnson’s office said.
According to reports in the British press, the review would recommend a further 12,500 army staff reduction, bringing the total number of army personnel to about 70,000.
On Saturday, the defense ministry reported that talk of cuts were “speculation at this moment.”
As part of the government’s attempt to promote regional growth outside of London, Johnson said the National Cyber Force, which comprises spies, military officers, and scientists, will have a permanent base in northern England.
International air protection devices and the cellphones of individuals the government deems serious criminals or militants are among the threats targeted by the NCF.
It was founded last year alongside a cyber warfare-focused army regiment.
A National Cyber Protection Center was founded in 2016 to provide recommendations to the government and the general public about how to reduce the possibility of cyber-attacks.