SOURCE: SUNDAY GUARDIAN LIVE
General Sir Nick Carter is the Chief of the Defence Staff of the UK Armed Forces. In an exclusive interaction with The Sunday Guardian, he describes how the pervasiveness of information and the rapid pace of technological development are changing how warfare is fought. The distinction between “peace” and “war”, “home” and “away”, state and non-state, virtual and reality are blurring. Collectively this presents opportunities for rivals to employ new ways of achieving their objectives below the legal definition of war.
The British Armed Forces are adapting to this changing character of warfareby organising themselves to have more utility through being integrated alongside the other levers of statecraft. The British Armed Forces are also investing in the skills and the digital technology to integrate across land, air, sea, space and cyberspace.
Reflecting on the last 20 years of NATO military presence in Afghanistan, General Carter noted how the mission evolved from primarily a counter-terrorism mission to enabling Afghanistan to build the institutions it needs to be a viable and sufficiently stable state to function in the international system.
General Carter outlined a scenario where political compromise is achievable, one reason this is possible is if the Afghan government can defend the provincial capitals for long enough for the Taliban to recognise that they cannot win through violence and that they need to negotiate for a political settlement. He lists other reasons that build on this belief. The General says it is important to recognise that the Taliban’s narrative does not resonate in arguably 80%of the population (not least top 60% of Afghans who are not Pashtuns) according to recent polling.
He highlights that India has a very important role to play in regional stability. The Indian role in Afghanistan has always been a stabilising one. India has connections with other neighbours who can help. The UK has always had respect for India’s role in matters of Afghanistan and hopes that India continues to play their positive role.
General Carter explains that the British Carrier Strike Group is deploying to the Indo- Pacific because of British interests in the region and the importance of the rules based system, that underpins free access and passage for anyone to trade.