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British spy agency MI6 director outlines ‘4th generation espionage’ to tackle hybrid age threat


London, Dec 4: With the nature of threat evolving, it is also important for the counter measures to get smarter too. The British espionage officials have realised it and are working on it.

Alex Younger

According to a report in IntelNews.org, Alex Younger, director of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service MI6, has chalked out the parameters of a new "fourth generation of espionage" which according to him is required to tackle "threats of the hybrid age".

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The 55-year-old career intelligence officer had joined MI6 in 1991 after his service in the British Army. He worked as the chief of global operations - the second most important position at the intelligence body - before taking over as the director in 2014. Younger had also worked in the Middle East besides Europe and also in Afghanistan where he represented the body as its most senior official after the US-led invasion in 2001 in the wake of 9/11.

Younger hasn't spoken enough in the public since he took over as the MI6 director four years ago and on Monday, December 3, it was only the second time he spoke and it was at Scotland's University of St Andrews, his own alma mater.

He said on the occasion that while the MI6's style of operations and people some of whom "have paid the ultimate price" must remain secret, its technological progress has "profoundly changed (its) operating environment."

"Technological change, as well as the degree of interconnectedness, he said, has made the world "dramatically more complicated". He went on to add that the resulting ambiguity is referred to by MI6 as a constant stream of "hybrid threats", namely challenges posed by nation-states operating "in the gray spaces of the hybrid era". They do so in order to probe the West's "institutions and defenses in ways that fall short of traditional warfare", said Younger," the InterlNews report added.

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Younger said that MI6 is well-positioned to respond to hybrid threats, mostly by augmenting human intelligence role. i.e., using human spies to collect information.

He said human intelligence will never change in its fundamental format in case of MI6's operations but it would evolve to meet the challenges of the hybrid age.

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