New armed forces minister wants military to investigate 'plankton-powered rubber duck bombs'

Written by John Johnston on 19 February 2020 in Diary
Diary

Q-branch has got nothing on the UK's new armed forces minister.

James Heappey has urged military chiefs to "think the ridiculous" just days after he was appointed a junior defence minister.

Speaking at the RUSI think tank the former army officer compared the Britain's military capabilites to doomed video rental firm Blockbuster before it was put out of business by Netflix.

And in a call for servicemen and women to think outside the box, he suggested special forces troops should shift away from "crawling through the ditch with their dagger in their teeth ready to plunge it into the heart of the enemy commander" and move towards planting "malware in the hard to enemy servers".

The minister said he hoped to use his new role to "embolden" military planners to consider mad-cap strategies for taking on foes.

In a series of suggestions which would put the writers of the next James Bond film to shame, he said: "I was talking...last week about plankton-powered rubber duck bombs, but why not?

"Who knows? If a million plankton-powered rubber duck bombs crashed into the Queen Elizabeth, she might sink."

His comments come ahead of a planned major review into the UK's defence capabilities, as he urged commanders to focus on new technologies that will give the UK "the edge in the future" of conflict.

He added: "Are we, in our platform-centric military Blockbuster, about to be disrupted by a future fight that is Netflix? In which case are we going out of business? Are we just fundamentally completely structured wrong in what we have got?

"Or is it a sort of disruption that is more Zip Car, Uber, Deliveroo, where the platforms, the business model, still look broadly the same but the battle-winning bit is the speed in which everything flows?"

Meanwhile, Mr Heappey urged a major push on cyber defences, saying the UK should get better at "switching stuff off" in hostile states.

He said cybersoldiers should develop new skills for "messing around with their digital architecture, their infrastructure back home, so they can't get to the start line in good nick either".

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