UK prepares to extend terror fight
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Terrorists should not be allowed to "stir up public anxieties to a level that the facts simply do not support," UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has said.
Presenting a progress report on a review of Britain's defence capabilities called in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States, Hoon said established approaches to civil and national defence had to change.
He said: "The scale and coordination of the attack on September 11, and the willingness of educated terrorists to lose their lives, are major differences from anything we have seen before.
"The threshold of terrorism has potentially been raised and the risk of terrorists turning to chemical, biological and radiological means may have increased.
"Furthermore, it has demonstrated that we cannot dictate the geographical areas where our interests may be engaged.
"It is clear that there are groups and states that potentially have the reach to act against us, or our allies, in a manner that cannot be ignored."
In a speech at King's College, London, Hoon said Britain and its allies should, in the future, be prepared to take the war against terrorism to countries that "support, nurture, protect and direct" terrorist organisations.
He said military forces may have to be deployed to "coerce" regimes that harbour and support the terror groups, such as al Qaeda, which he described as "somewhere between a state and so-called 'conventional' terrorist organisations."
"We may need to act to destroy terrorist cells with military action, and perhaps, in the last instance, to act against regimes, such as the Taliban, while they support, protect, nurture and direct them," he said.
"We need to refine our techniques for collapsing terrorist organisations as a whole and not just individual cells."
He said Britain also needed to deter future attackers by making sure that they were aware of both the full range of military options that could be deployed against them and the UK's willingness to use them.
But, while he warned against a "fortress Britain" mentality or of over-estimating the risks of possible attacks, he revealed that an assessment of possible targets carried out since September 11 "include attacks on our energy supplies and on our transport systems."
"Our work now involves reviewing our longer-term air defence arrangements end-to-end, from radar coverage to 'shoot down' if necessary," he added.
He said the review of the British armed forces would result in a larger better-equipped rapid reaction force able to be deployed at short-notice anywhere in the world, and a "more useable and more integrated" reserve force to bolster domestic security.
The review findings will form a new "chapter" of the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, to be finalised in the first half of next year.
"In future, we may be engaged across a different and potentially wider canvas than we perhaps envisaged even at the time of the Strategic Defence Review," Hoon said.
"I would underline that our objective is to have forces available with the agility and adaptability to deal with a range of scenarios, not focused simply on a few specific possibilities.
"The UK is well placed to take on international terrorism and other asymmetric threats.
"We have significantly improved capabilities -- reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, rapid deployment, target acquisition, precision strike and effective command and control.
"However, the attacks on the U.S. on September 11 have shown that we must build on our previous efforts. We need to look beyond what is happening today and examine what are the possible longer-term implications."
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Ministry of Defence
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