Dominic Cummings sent a less than subtle message to British generals to embrace new technology this morning during his modernization campaign that could revolutionize the armed forces.
The notoriously neglected senior aide to Boris Johnson is currently overseeing a defense spending review that could bring sweeping changes and cost reductions, including increased use of drones and increased attention to cyberwarfare.
He was dressed and in boots as he walked Downing Street this morning with a document exposed in the open in his hands which praised the quest for ever more modern weapons of war.
It was a copy of a letter from retired US Air Force General Bernard Schriever in 1986 to the head of President Ronald Reagan’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management, which reviewed the allegations excessive spending on procurement.
General Schriever, nicknamed the “Father of Space and Air Force missiles” after leading research and development programs during the height of the Cold War, wrote to commission chairman David Packard to highlight the importance of staying ahead of the opposition.
“I firmly believe that the judicious and timely application of technology to deliver quantitatively superior weapons, right behind people, is the most important ingredient for our national security,” the letter said.
Mr Cummings previously hailed General Schriever, who died in 2005, as a “phenomenally successful” manager for his work on the rapid deployment of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
The assistant will have known that the letter would have been picked up by cameras as he arrived before this morning’s Cabinet meeting at No10.
He is currently playing a leading role in the defense spending review which is expected to set the UK’s priorities next year.
Boris Johnson’s notoriously neglected senior aide was dressed and started as he walked Downing Street this morning with a document on display in the open in his hands.
It was a copy of a letter from retired US Air Force General Bernard Shriever in 1986 to the head of President Ronald Reagan’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management, which reviewed the allegations excessive spending on procurement.
General Bernard Schriever was a German-born senior officer in the United States Army and Air Force who was nicknamed the “Father of Air Force Space and Missiles”
Bernard Schriever was the father of American Cold War missiles and space programs
General Bernard Schriever was a senior officer of German origin in the United States Air Force and Air Force.
He spent 34 years of service, most notably as a bomber pilot during World War II.
After the war, he led the US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) construction program
He then led the Air Force Systems Command, a research and development operation for new high-tech weapons in the early 1906s.
According to the Museum of the US Air Force: “Its legacy in the Air Force is its unmatched ability to rapidly and effectively develop and use the latest science and technology in the execution of its air and space missions.
“His leadership in space and missiles secured American strength throughout the Cold War, and he helped make the Air Force the leader in the development of military technology.
“General Schriever’s achievements have rightly earned him the title of ‘Father of Space and Air Force Missiles’.”
He retired in 1966, but nearly two decades later, in 1985, President Reagan appointed him to his National Space Commission as he sought to create his Star Wars program.
He died in 2005 at the age of 94.
This has already sparked controversy with reports that the entire force of the British Army of hundreds of tanks and armored vehicles could be scrapped as part of sweeping modernization plans.
The UK’s Challenger II main battle tanks and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles are said to be at risk due to the massive budget cuts expected to follow the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Packard, the recipient of the 1986 letter, was a former Defense Secretary to President Nixon who also co-founded electronics giant Hewlett-Packard.
His commission was ordered to examine allegations of overspending on arms and other military materiel by the government procurement system after President Reagan took office with a mandate to significantly expand the U.S. military in the goal of ending the cold war.
He blamed overly complicated systems and procedures rather than fraud or corruption for the massive overspending that was occurring.
It emerged in July that Mr Cummings, Boris Johnson’s most senior aide, had been given the green light to visit classified sites such as MI5, MI6 and SAS headquarters ahead of the review.
His involvement in the review sparked controversy in Whitehall, with MPs warning military chiefs that they needed to improve or face the prospect of the assistant “fixing you his way”.
Senior MPs have previously asked Mr Cummings to submit to questioning over his involvement in the major review of UK defense and security capabilities.
Last night Defense Secretary Ben Wallace signaled that drones will replace troops in future wars, warning Britain’s enemies have “adapted much faster than us”.
He laid out his plan for the military to become “endlessly innovative” by unveiling a deadly new stand-alone kit for use by the Royal Navy.
It was flanked by a quadcopter drone carrying a torpedo – which could also be used to evacuate the wounded – and a flying ram drone hitting machine.
Mr Wallace said that a future fighting force would not be a “mass mobilization” like the wars of the past, but rather a matter of speed and preparation.
The former Scots Guards officer was speaking ahead of the publication of a major defense review during a visit to the British Navy’s newest ship, HMS Tamar, to London.
Alluding to the fact that numbers could be reduced in favor of modern and specialized armed forces, he said: “Instead of mass and mobilization, this future force will be focused on speed, readiness and resilience, operating much more in the newer fields, in space, cyber and underwater, and working to prevent and win conflicts. ‘
He said the ongoing review will lead to “gradual change” with an overhaul of the military like never before.
The Malloy Aeronautics T-400 could also be used to evacuate casualties by putting them in a tube attached to the unmanned drone, or to search for migrants in the English Channel. Meanwhile, the Anduril Anvil standalone kit uses sensors to find out where the drones are.
Challenger 2 main battle tank, seen participating in exercise Saif Sareea 3 in Oman, could be put on hold
He added: “The world situation has changed, our enemies have studied our vulnerabilities and adapted much faster than us.”
He continued: “We are going to move away from what we are used to and instead reshape our armed forces to become a force suitable for the battles of tomorrow, not those of yesterday.”
He said the future army will be “modern, versatile and innovative”.