back to article UK military may recruit wheezy, alcoholic keyboard warriors

The United Kingdom’s military should relax its medical requirements to help it enlist more skilled cyber-operatives. So said Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, who is chief of defence staff, in a valedictory address delivered on Tuesday at think tank "Policy Exchange". Peach's remarks touched on the changing nature of the UK …

  1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    What does a "skilled cyber-operative" do for the UK military? Cyber attacks? Covert espionage? Writing tweets to Russia saying "stop it"?.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      What does a "skilled cyber-operative" do for the UK military? Cyber attacks? Covert espionage? Writing tweets to Russia saying "stop it"?

      Maybe they just leave one-star reviews on TrustPilot ?

      "North Korea: Hard to get to, no free wi-fi, boss-man is a bit of a nutter. Would not visit again."

      1. Fred Dibnah

        ""North Korea: Hard to get to, no free wi-fi, boss-man is a bit of a nutter. Would not visit again."

        See also: United States of America.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          SAD!

          Hey, we have free wi-fi in the US!

    2. Ian Emery Silver badge
      Windows

      Who cares what they do, where do I sign up; I meet all the headline requirements.

      natch!"

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      "What does a "skilled cyber-operative" do for the UK military?"

      During WW2, they did things like crack the Enigma encryption so that they could intercept German communications.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        RE: Katrinab

        I think you'll find they used mathematicians...

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: RE: Katrinab

          They used mathematicians, yes, and also invented a lot of very impressive hardware and software to run the stuff.

  2. smudge Silver badge

    "... alcohol or drug dependency are currently barriers to enlistment in the British Army" - but are pretty common amongst those who have been in the Army :(

    And, from what I have seen, these people get no help from the Army. Once they are out, they are out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Agreed! It's the same in Canada. I, honestly, don't know why people join. Once Armed Forces members run into psychological issues because of PTSD they are often forced out. If they talk openly, by that I mean admit to have psychological troubles with the Armed Forces, about their trauma they, it appears, are blacklisted for advancement. Whether in or out the wait time for treatment is to long. I do not recommend a career in the Armed Forces, although this new position might be acceptable.

      But being an Armed Forces is for the young and that is largely because the young can more easily be trained for the dangerous tasks required. The human brain doesn't reach maturity until a person is about 25 years of age and so making decisions about the danger of an action is somewhat impaired. It would be interesting if people weren't allowed to join until then; of course, the same could be said for religions. It would be interesting to study them all, at least those with the bigger following and understand their writing in the context of the time and place they were created. Sorry veering off course :)

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Hopey Cokey....sniffff!!!

      Once they are out, they are out.*

      Once you are in, you are in.

      When you are only halfway in, you are in the TA.

      Sounds a bit like Probation and Offender Rehabilitation - I hear help kind of dries up there after a while too.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge
    IT Angle

    "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

    Yes, but how does the six screens, three keyboards, one mouse set up work then?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

      It allows you to hack through multiple terminals, terminal A hacks into Terminal B which hacks into to Terminal C then you are free to use the bluetooth stack to attack google via html after clearing the scsi bus.

      1. The Real Tony Smith

        Re: "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

        That brings new meaning into the phrase 'on the scsi bus, off the scsi bus'...

        Ex military types will know exactly what I mean.

      2. Adam Foxton

        Re: "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

        It means you're better able to build a GUI in Visual Basic to track an enemy's IPs.

        1. David 18

          Re: "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

          @Adam Foxton Have a pint, couldn't remember the exact quote and you go there first ;)

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

        does it also hack gibsons?

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

      "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

      Yes, but how does the six screens, three keyboards, one mouse set up work then??*

      See also Investment, Stocks Trader....

      * It doesn't**, just looks good. Impress your friends, alienate your partner.

      ** May work better with a tiling wm...

    3. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)

      Re: "At last! A valid use of a 'hacker in a hoodie' stereotype stock image"

      Dan, easy, have a synergy km setup and a second keyboard on a kvm for early boot recovery, couple of different hardware/os's, one for browsing dodgy places during research, one set up as a compiler etc, keep them viewable so you can keep one eye on a long process while doing something else elsewhere. Throw in a 2nd kvm which goes out to my server room via a dedicated cable + kvm extender, and bingo, you have 6 screens and 3 keyboards. Though mostly two of them sit down the side of the desk out the damn way unless something goes wrong.

      In my defence, I had to pay for all 6 of my 19" monitors, so that means I made the bracketry myself and cleared out the secondhand shop a few times. Short arms and deep pockets me...

  4. israel_hands

    "Morning, Peach."

    "That's Air Chief Marshall Peach to you, Darling."

    "Actually it's Captain Darling, sir."

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      "I wouldn't lick a Korean if he was glazed in honey..."

      "The digital map is very detailed sir, look, there's a little worm program..."

      "You mean geek on our geek as he searches for their geek...?"

      "When I joined up we were still fighting post colonial wars. If you saw someone in a skirt you shot him and nicked his oil."

      "The kind of people we like to fight are over 50 and running unpatched Windows ME"

      The list is endless.

  5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Coat

    Shame

    I'm enjoying my new job...

  6. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Health problems?

    If OCD is a reason to keep people out, why is the Army historically obsessive about keeping tidy barracks and laying out uniform on beds 'just so', within a millimetre?

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Health problems?

      If OCD is a reason to keep people out, why is the Army historically obsessive about keeping tidy barracks and laying out uniform on beds 'just so', within a millimetre?

      It's actually not and those training techniques are really old and obselete.

      However, the idea behind doing that for the low level troops was to get people used to trying hard to do things that may well be impossible, and to foster a team spirit amongst the victims by getting them to bond together, the first part of which is everybody agreeing that the bloke is a bastard and then helping each other out to escape his wrath.

      There are new methods these days, but the idea is to very rapidly impart a team spirit among the trainees along with "thou shalt not give up" which is an operational requirement for people betting their lives that somebody else is going to do their job.

      Bear in mind that the army has three sets of training courses, one for the troops, one for NCO's and another for officers, each of which are aiming at acheiving different things. I suppose it's possible that they can deal with a forth for cyber operations and you can see here that there is realisation at a high level that change is required, but it's so radically different in terms of staffing requirements, required psycology and management from the rest of the forces that I think it'd be better to have a seperate organisation for it entirely.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Health problems?

        >>better to have a seperate organisation for it entirely.<<

        Similar to the mostly civilian Boffin filled locations during WW2 that were under tight military control?

        That seems to have worked quite well.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Health problems?

        foster a team spirit amongst the victims by getting them to bond together

        Strange how the same techniques has been so much less effective, although equally widely applied, in industry

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Health problems?

          Strange how the same techniques has been so much less effective, although equally widely applied, in industry

          In the military they deliberately had one set of troops that just did training and then handed the trained troops over to the line regiments so the deliberately bad relationship with the training staff had a clear demarcation to the normal chaps in charge, who couldn't help but look sweetly reasonable in comparison.

          In industry it's just absymal and incompetent management.

  7. Overflowing Stack

    I'll do it!

    Просто дай мне маска акулы, лазер и головной ремень.

    1. Andy00ff00

      Re: I'll do it!

      will a sea-bass do?

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: I'll do it!

        will a sea-bass do?

        Ahh, A fishy requisite!!!!

    2. tip pc Bronze badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I'll do it!

      i think you've been watching to much Bond

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Gimp

      Re: I'll do it!

      Are you talking about warfare or sexual fetishes?

    4. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: I'll do it!

      I'll do it!

      Просто дай мне маска акулы, лазер и головной ремень.

      <u>Anyone hear anything about some Lauuunch Codes......?</u>

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lauuunch Codes

        For the submerged subs - a good'ole twittering of a modem. Write Your Own Tweet is a trend (-:

  8. Andrew Oakley

    Colour blindness?

    I got rejected for naval university sponsorship because of colour blindness - I wonder if that's now no longer a problem for non-overseas recruits?

    After all, if the job is in the UK, then "reasonable adjustment" is already required for minor stuff like that.

    Although I'm pretty badly colour vision deficient - as in, can't easily spot a fire engine parked on a field of grass.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Colour blindness?

      So long as you are not responsible for red flagging potential terrorists I don't see a problem.

      To be on the safe side ask you colleagues which are the red flags and use those ones liberally.

      By liberally I mean a lot rather than just on white males.

    2. dnicholas Bronze badge

      Re: Colour blindness?

      As long as you can tell the difference between red and white text in a console window...

  9. Christoph Silver badge

    But can you join the military if you've been convicted for littering?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, that's rubbish.

    2. GrumpyOldBloke

      A conscientious ejector?

    3. Mr Smin

      No. Now go and sit on the Group W bench.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Nice try, Arlo. It's the jumping up and down and yelling "Kill, Kill, Kill!!!" that will get you rejected.

    5. Narrator Jay

      Arlo Guthrie couldn't

      I played Alice's Restaurant a week ago, as fun as it ever was!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm guessing stoners (again)

    It's not axiomatic, but I bet a lot of the really good (I mean *really*, *really* good) people with the necessary skills are probably no stranger to a joint in their lives.

    The problem is not that they're not flocking to the military because they might fail a drugs test.

    The problem is that people who like the odd joint really aren't interested in working for the military. Any military. And this wheeze of an idea won't change that anytime soon.

    Take it from me, if they started seriously drug testing all developed vetted personnel in the UK, we'd be a few consultants short of a scam.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: I'm guessing stoners (again)

      Ditto GCHQ, plenty of skilled folk would not go near military or GCHQ. Not necessarily to do with drug screenings, asthma etc. but because some of the actions of these organizations are at odds with the non applicants personal set of morals.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: Morals

        You mean they have some...

        Saw that Michelle Keegan girl singing the praises of the lesser spotted squaddie - wonder how she'll feel after I mention the smallpox laced blankets for Amerindian women and kids. Or how we used a biotoxin weapon (botulinum toxin) to assassinate enemy combatants in WW2 - even the Nazis didn't do that (the OVOC don't count since they weren't combatants). Or riddling Indian women and kids or even the odd English one.. (Peterloo).

        Not to mention giving the world concentration camps, to the Jews everlasting regret. Although that was more incompetence than outright intent.

        Makes you proud to be British; what, what?

    2. handleoclast Silver badge

      Re: I'm guessing stoners (again)

      The problem is that people who like the odd joint really aren't interested in working for the military.

      Indeed. That's why they want the alcoholics. Most of them are itching for a fight when they're half-cut.

  11. yellowlawn

    Oooh Geek on Geek action. Large Pepperoni Pizza - Check. Copious 2 litre bottles of Cola - Check. Lights out and Penetration testing away!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Travelling and Fighting?

    Sounds like half my career in IT.*

    *yes, drinking was the other half

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: Travelling and Fighting?

      At the pub that can be seen from the second-floor windows of Mission Control?

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Travelling and Fighting?

      Travelling and Fighting?

      Sounds like half my career in IT.*

      *yes, drinking was the other half

      Ahhh, your a Procedural Guy!

  13. Gordon Pryra

    Alcohol and Drug Dependancy

    I am pretty sure that these should still be an effective barrier to working as a cleaner let alone in any form of national defence

  14. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Future War

    During a future war when WAN facilities are highly degraded and/or compromised there will be a need for these specialists to be very near the front line, at this point all the current physical & mental training requirements will pop up again.

    Currently the head count in uniform = headcount that can follow orders & be used as infantry in extremis.

    A largely civilian organisation being used to support armed service 'combat-techies' would be able to provide the numbers required.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Future War

      Currently the head count in uniform = headcount that can follow orders & be used as infantry in extremis.

      Don't kid yourself, a future war, the U.K would go from zero to 'The Bed Sitting Room' pretty sharpish.

      God Save Her Majesty Mrs Ethel Shroake.

  15. chivo243 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Short list

    I don't have asthma or epilepsy, put me down for the rest ;-}

  16. Milton Silver badge

    Why, you utter barstewards

    I knew it. I knew it, I knew it, I knew they'd find a way to drag me back. If antiquity, chronic lung disease (never smoked: I still suspect CR gas drills), and beer weren't good enough to keep me firmly out, the crafty buggers have ginned up a job description where the bugs are rewritten as features.

    Seriously though, the obvious showstopper with this idea (at least if the brass are serious about allowing folks with drug and alcohol problems to work for them) is opsec: traditionally, those behaviours not only impair performance, they render one vulnerable to compromise. It's all very well re-employing ex-Major Curmudgeon at the age of 60 because he's been doing nifty IT stuff since he did his 12 years—but what happens if sultry Natasha Honeytrapova comes round to tempt him with a crate of vodka? Or a pound of best Crimean Weed?

    No, I think some lack of fitness or ill health might be tolerated if you find great candidates, but substance abuse, seriously? I don't see it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why, you utter barstewards

      The point is you admit everything naughty you have done so it is on record and cannot be used as blackmail to compromise you later. It is assumed that you have 'lived life' and have at least tried things that aren't legal...although Linux is probably pushing it too far!

      I admitted to the odd toke at Uni and I was offered a Permanent Commission in Her Majesty's RAF.

      Anon for obvious reasons...and chocks away!

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Why, you utter barstewards

      The article refers to alcohol/drug dependency not necessarily being a barrier. To my mind dependency still ought to be a barrier, although use may not be. For example "use", such as occasionally puffing on a jazz cigarette could be viewed as no worse than popping down to the NAAFI bar for some beers. But "dependency" is a much bigger deal, likely to impact on a person's behaviour in a way that renders them unsuitable for service.

  17. SkippyBing Silver badge

    Pay?

    So if they're non-deployable presumably they'll be paid less? Nominally 15% of service pay, known as the X-factor*, is for the embuggerance of service life i.e. getting two weeks notice that you're going to live in a desert/on a ship for six months.

    It's not just theoretical either, Full Time Reserve Service pays different rates of X-factor depending on how deployable you are. Don't want to get deployed, find a Home Commitment job and take a 15% pay cut**.

    *From before that was a thing with Simon Cowell.

    **I know it's not 15% both ways but I can't be bothered with the maths.

    1. Miss Lincolnshire

      Re: Pay?

      They tell you you get an extra 15% but 15% of a crap wage is still crap money. My advice is to get a real job then join the reserve if you fancy blatting a few rounds off occasionally.

      I don't get the point of the article. The Army has been recruiting fat and wheezy Combat Fitness Test bifs for years. 1 in 9 of headcount. They're called the Royal Logistics Corps.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: Pay?

        It is quite hard scrapping by as part of the 10%, but I tried a real job and it didn't seem much fun.

      2. fnusnu

        Re: Pay?

        If you're going to have a pop, at least get the name right: Royal Logistic Corps

  18. Chris G Silver badge

    New Regiment

    The Queen's Own Hackers. Cap badge: Pepperoni Pizza with crossed joysticks.

    Uniform barracks: teeshirt stained, general duties for the use of, jeans unpressed relaxed fit, cold weather sweater hooded.Sneakers general duty

    Uniform Dress. teeshirt unstained ironed, jeans tailored pressed, Sweater hooded laundered, Sneakers clean laced up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New Regiment

      Already has a name...Joint Force Command.

  19. Multivac

    Some of those are out for good reason

    A serious drug dependency could leave someone open to blackmail, bribery or other forms of manipulation by an external source. Eczema and asthma, not so much.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Some of those are out for good reason

      Unless you received the drugs officially as part of the payment

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...wheezy, alcoholic keyboard warriors"

    Headline "UK military may recruit >>wheezy, alcoholic<< keyboard warriors"

    You just described every member of every navy in the world.

  21. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Trollface

    I can see it now

    In 2022 a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the London underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the IT Crowd.

  22. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Recruiting poster

    A popular spoof poster when I was conscripted many years and many miles ago was:

    Join the Army

    Go to beautiful exotic countries

    Meet happy, interesting people

    Then kill them

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Recruiting poster

      A popular defaced version when I wor a lad.

      Join the Army

      Go to Belfast

      Get your legs blown off

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Recruiting poster

        A popular defaced version when I wor a lad.

        Join the Army

        Go to BelfastSouth Armagh

        Get your legs blown off

  23. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Dad's Army

    The Walmington-on-Sea Cyber Platoon

  24. onefang Silver badge

    I hope Australia doesn't follow suit, or my medical discharge from the Air Cadets may no longer protect me.

  25. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Late Onset Wisdom?

    Is Sir Stuart Peach delusional?

    A valid question to ask whenever praising forces and skills which are dedicated to maintaining and retaining failed and failing status quo operations and services rather than recognising and preparing for new commands beyond traditional and conventional controls dependent upon those failed state arrangements.

    And how very typical of a defence staff chief, to touch upon novel exotic submissions/proposals on leaving office, rather than them being the root cause of their appointment and promotion.

    And, whenever “We are getting some of this right.” , more than just a little is being done wrong.

    Such then naturally leads to significant others, and presumably persons of interest to be targeted by both intelligence-gathering corps and alternative source forces for either recruitment or termination, with only the former able to enable improvement and make over and take over of defunct and decrepit systems.

    For more than just a few who decide to do something new about such a situation, is the following message long ago received and fully understood ....... I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!

    Do you recognise the bulk of the following few words, today, and relate to the message networking sublimely to both clandestine and covert virtual source forces? ......

    I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV's while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

    It is what all systems have to deal with and make deals with, if they want to have any chance at future survival. Que sera, sera.

    Have a nice day, y'all.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong article!

    Wrong article - didn't mean to post here.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019