The Ministry of Defence has launched a new dedicated Cyber Regiment whose role will be to serve as “digital armour” for defence technology and communications networks in the UK and overseas.
The 13th Signal Regiment was “formally stood up” on Monday and assumed its function as the Armed Forces’ first regiment dedicated solely to cyber and information warfare. It will be tasked with defending what the MoD characterised as “a new cyber frontline” on which the UK faces attack from adversarial states and other “hostile actors”.
The unit will comprise about 250 cyber-specialised servicewomen and men, who will be assembled from across 15 organisations. They will be based at the Dorset headquarters of the Royal Corps of Signals, from where the Cyber Regiment will offer a technical support hub “to test and implement next-generation information capabilities”.
The regiment’s personnel will play a key role in securing military communications networks, and will also be required to support cybersecurity for troops deployed on operations around the world.
The ultimate aim of establishing the regiment is to ensure that “UK defensive cyber capabilities remain ahead of adversaries and aggressors”.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is a step-change in the modernisation of the UK Armed Forces for information warfare. Cyberattacks are every bit as deadly as those faced on the physical battlefield, so we must prepare to defend ourselves from all those who would do us harm and 13th Signal Regiment is a vital addition to that defence.”
The 13th Signal Regiment came into being during World War Two when, under the name of 1st Special Wireless Group, it led the Armed Forces’ use of wireless radio technology. Having been renamed in 1959, it served throughout the Cold War, during which it was stationed in Berlin. It has been dormant for 26 years since being disbanded in 1994.
Brigadier John Collyer, commander of the 1st (UK) Signal Brigade, which houses the regiment, said: “The re-formation of 13th Signal Regiment is an exciting step forward as the Royal Signals, Army and wider defence rapidly drives up their potency and resilience in the information environment and cyber domain. The stakes are high, and our success is increasingly and critically reliant on focusing our brightest men and women onto the opportunities and risks that underpin our operations – both home and away.”