The Ministry of Defence is set to recruit a teenage “cyber cadet” force which to help guard the nation against online attacks, Gavin Williamson has announced.
The Defence Secretary told the Tory party conference that around 2,000 cadets a year would be trained on a £1 million GCHQ programme in a bid to equip young people with the skills to “protect our nation against sophisticated and evolving threats”.
Mr Williamson, in his first conference speech with the defence brief, also announced that he would be protecting HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion being withdrawn from service early.
There had been speculation that the two ships were facing the scrapyard as the MoD looked to make savings.
Mr Williamson, announcing the cyber cadets, said: “We live in a modern world where our phones are rarely out of our hands and we rely on computers to make daily tasks easier.
“Cyber threats to the UK are constantly evolving and this exciting initiative to train and develop ‘cyber cadets’ – the first of its kind in a Nato state – reaffirms our leading role in tackling security threats head on.
“It is important to recognise the vital role cadets play in our communities, and I am determined to grow the number of young people signing up and make sure their successes are properly recognised each year.”
He added: “This programme has been designed with GCHQ and the National Cyber Security Centre. 2,000 cadets a year will be trained in cyber security.
“Teaching young people skills, they need to succeed in today’s world. This investment in cadets is an investment in the future of our young people.”
Mr Williamson also announced that the UK would be maintaining a military presence in Germany
Around 185 British Army personnel and 60 MoD civilians will remain in Germany, once the withdrawal of British Army units to the UK has been completed.
He said: “We are increasing our British points of presence across the world. We will not close our facilities in Germany and are will instead we keep them open and forward base the Army there.”