A leaked report suggests British military leaders are deeply concerned about Russia’s military capabilities, but questions have arisen over the nature of the leaks, as the UK has a history of dumping information into the public sphere for strategic effect.
The findings seen by the Times outline concern that the British military has been outstripped by Russia in terms of equipment, cyber warfare, and conventional fighting capacity.
Sections of the document, entitled “Insights to ‘Training Smarter’ Against a Hybrid Adversary,” have been seen by The Times newspaper.
The document is said to have been written in March under the direction of General Sir Nick Carter, the professional head of the British Army. It is understood to have been based on lessons gleaned from a single exercise carried out in Ukraine.
It looks at Russian combat tactics, cyber warfare methods, and appears to suggest that Russia is using the Ukrainian theater as a practice run for a war with the West.
The latest report is classed as ‘sensitive‘, the lowest level of the military’s spectrum of sensitivity – the same level as personal data, for example.
However, the timing of the revelations is of interest, however, given the frequent leakiness of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and other UK government departments.
A 2014 report indicated there had been more than 4,000 security breaches at the MoD in the previous four years, including five “security information incidents” every day in 2013.
While these were attributed to absent mindedness by senior officers, UK government departments have long been accused of leaking strategically for a range of reasons – not least to garner funding or simply dominate a narrative.
One recent example of this is a leak of classified information to the press that was apparently intended to discredit former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
A 2013 report in the Independent newspaper claimed the outlet had seen a Snowden leak which showed that the UK ran a large data-surveillance center in the Middle East.
Snowden himself quickly denied any involvement in that revelation, noting that the style of reportage was not consistent with that of the journalists he worked with.
He said he required that his leaks be reported in a way which was “judicious and careful in ensuring that the only things disclosed are what the public should know but that does not place any person in danger.”
“I have never spoken with, worked with, or provided any journalistic materials to the Independent,” he said at the time.
“It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to the Independent and attributing it to others,” the former contractor said.
This report comes after Britain pledged to spend £3.5…