Britain will deploy 800 British troops to the Arctic to ward off Russian aggression, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced.
The Royal Marine and Army commandos will be deployed to Norway every winter for the next decade, operating alongside U.S. and Dutch marines as well as Norwegian troops.
Mr Williamson announced the move before his speech at the Tory party conference in Birmingham in which he pointed to Russia’s re-opening of Soviet-era bases high in the arctic circle.
Melting ice has made the far north more navigable than ever before and led to claims of race to take control over the territory and its natural resources.
Ahead of his speech he said there had been an ‘increased tempo’ of submarine activity and insisted it proved Britain needed to ‘demonstrate we’re there’ to ‘protect our interests’.
Also in the speech, he announced that he would be protecting HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion being withdrawn from service early.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.
He also said Britain will recruit teenagers into a ‘cyber cadet force to help guard the nation against digital warfare,Around 2,000 youths will be trained each year in a new £1million GCHQ programme.
The measure is the latest step in bolstering Britain’s cyber defences against interference from the Kremlin, rogue states and terrorists.
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.’
On the subject of Russian aggression, Mr Williamson told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘We see Russian submarine activity very close to the level that it was at the Cold War, and it’s right that we start responding to that.
‘If we could turn back the clock 10 years many people thought that the era of submarine activity in the High North, in the North Atlantic, and the threat that it posed did disappear with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
‘This threat has really come back to the fore.’
Theresa May and Boris Johnson traded blows today as a potentially tumultous Tory conference kicked off.
The former foreign secretary launched another vicious attack on the PM’s Chequers plan for Brexit – branding it ‘deranged’ and ‘preposterous’.
But a defiant Mrs May shot back that her critics were ‘playing politics’ and insisted she is still confident of getting a deal with the EU.