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Geoff Hoon: Intervening in the New Security Environment

Article by Rt Hon. Geoff Hoon MP

September 15, 2006

It is difficult to overstate the change to the international security environment that we face at the beginning of the 21st century. For almost half a century, the UK and allies were locked in cold war confrontation. Politicians and policy makers for defence and foreign policy habitually thought of the world in two geographical compartments:

· First, the NATO area, from which we faced the Soviet Union. This was ultimately the most important theatre, but the aim essentially was to ensure that nothing much changed or happened.

· Second, there was “The rest of the world”. This was of altogether lesser significance. Things certainly happened there, not least as super power rivalry was covertly pursued. But everything was seen through the prism of the cold war confrontation and conflicts were dampened or controlled out of deference to the great global stand-off.

This division began to break down with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. This Labour Government formally cast aside much of the old defence thinking in the Strategic Defence Review in 1998, with our new emphasis on expeditionary warfare. But it took the appalling events of 11 September 2001 to bring home to us the artificiality of the old geographical distinction and its irrelevance to the security problems we face now.

Prior to those events, perhaps too many in the West also paid too much attention to the classical constraint on Intervention – possibly best expressed in the field of medicine – first do no harm. We now know that we have no choice but to be prepared to intervene and actively manage the international security environment or, to continue the metaphor, the patient may well get worse before he gets better. But intervention is not all or even preferably about the use of force. What it is about is positive action driven by a thorough analysis of the security challenges we face.
New Chapter

The appalling attacks in the United States on 11 September dominated the year which followed. Not only did those attacks lead us to commit military forces to operations against Al Qaida in Afghanistan but they also caused us to look very closely at the strategic environment in which our Armed Forces operate.

The most important element of that policy analysis shows that there is a new category of player in the strategic security arena. Not new in the sense that we had never heard of Al Qaida or Usama Bin Laden before, but qualitatively different.

It would be wrong to suggest that Al Qaida somehow emerged from nowhere as a strategic threat on 11 September. Rather those attacks demonstrated to us that a hostile force had developed the will and the capability to be actively hostile on a scale we had not previously anticipated.

It remains to be seen whether or not Al Qaida is a unique phenomenon, given an opportunity to flourish only by a particular combination of leadership, financial resource and a relationship with a regime, the Taliban, that gave it a haven in which to grow.

We would be unwise to assume so. Or to assume that other terrorist networks might not develop the same will and strategic capability by different means.

We must learn the lesson that, just as viruses evolve new strains which constantly challenge medical science, and successive generations of bacteria grow resistant to antibiotics, so can the nature and means of hostility change in the wider world.

The terrorist network is an enemy whose strategic interests, infrastructure and will to fight are very different to those of a conventional nation-state. It has no territory to control, no economy to protect or nurture, no citizens to whom it has obligations. Nor does it have an existence within the society of states: it has no institutional relationships with states or supra-national organisations. Its hostility might be self-inspired by some ideological fervour, or externally generated, a response to some action of ours or condition of its constituency. In a sense, it seems to have nothing to lose.

Therefore many of the normal vehicles of analysis, power and influence within the society of states do not apply to it. Nor do the military relationships with which we are familiar.

The policy analysis which supported the New Chapter of the Strategic Defence Review reflected on these differences.

It highlighted the fundamental importance of knowing the enemy, of being one step ahead of it so that we could assess, decide and act faster than it could. We gave this a label. It is ‘knowledge superiority’.

The New Chapter went on to demonstrate that the Armed Forces still had a significant role in a wider counter-terrorist strategy.

First, Defence Diplomacy, the provision of military training to less capable states and deployments on stabilisation operations can help prevent the development of conditions which give rise to terrorism.

Second, by demonstrating that we have a genuine capability to respond to attacks and by making known that we will do so, the Armed Forces offer deterrence.

Third, the threat of military action, or its actual use can back up coercive demands that states or organisations do not engage in terrorism.

Fourth, military operations can disrupt the capability of terrorist networks to act by denying them money, equipment or freedom of movement, or by dislocating whatever physical infrastructure they create.

Finally, we can destroy terrorist cells or networks directly.

These military means were all firmly within the scope of the original Strategic Defence Review. The New Chapter showed that its emphasis on expeditionary operations with allies was correct. But the New Chapter also identified what we needed to do to make these military means operate more effectively against a different sort of enemy.

We were already building capabilities around the networking of equipment which collects data about the enemy, to the commanders who make decisions based on that information, to the weapons platforms – whatever they might be – which hit the target. The pace of change in this ‘network-centric capability’ has accelerated rapidly since we first saw it in the Gulf War and it continues to do so. We concluded that we need to exploit this approach better and more comprehensively.

The essence of this concept of operations is precision in the application of military power – hitting the right target hard and hitting it fast.

There is a range of such scenarios. We have to plan for more than just terrorism. Terrorism is not the only threat to peace and stability around the world.

9/11 did not remove existing issues, or diminish their importance over time. We still face the challenge of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We still face the challenges of drugs and crime organised on a global scale. We still face the challenges of geo-political tensions in many parts of the world.

And terrorism does not exist in isolation from these challenges. In some cases they themselves give rise to the conditions which breed terrorism.

At one end of the scale, in consequence management, it does not much matter if the damage was caused by a terrorist attack, by a state actor, by an aircraft crash, or indeed by an earthquake or a flood.

At the other end as well, the circumstances which give rise to terrorism also bear on state actors and their strategic aims and actions. In some cases they are inseparable. The Middle East peace process is perhaps the prime example.

The levers I described, levers which we can apply to terrorism, apply elsewhere as well. But we do need to recognise differences: some concepts work differently when applied to states as opposed to terrorist networks. This is especially true of coercion and deterrence where the nature of a state’s interests and obligations, and its inability to hide, make it more amenable to pressure than a terrorist network.

We can immodestly claim to have been in the forefront of European and Alliance thinking on this – including through the SDR, and this year’s New Chapter – but our European allies are arriving at the same conclusions. The forthcoming NATO Summit in Prague holds out the prospect of a significant expansion of Euro/Atlantic security, with new members being drawn into the Alliance and new partnerships forged with an expanding periphery including of course, most notably, Russia.


NATO is arguably the most successful Alliance in history, a fundamental reason why the Cold War had the right outcome, and still the single most effective international security organisation in existence. And yet there are still those who question the purpose and relevance of the Alliance.

Let us think back for a moment as to why the Alliance came into existence in the first place. I won’t dwell on the constant shifting of the balance of power, and the multiple conflicts which accompanied it, over the centuries in which Europe as we recognise it today came into being. Hegel referred to the “slaughterbench of history” looking back from the early Nineteenth Century. How much stronger would he have put it if he could have anticipated the events of the Twentieth?

And it was the first half of that Century that was the period of maximum European instability. Two world wars, destruction and loss of life on a scale unimaginable before the industrial age, and resolution coming about in both cases following US intervention. And that was where real vision was implemented. Our forebears realised that, if the Europeans could not sort out their own security and stability, then we needed to institutionalise United States involvement in European security affairs.

Of course, the urgency of this project was underlined by the ugly post-War division of Europe, and by the emerging threat from the Soviet bloc. The foundation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in 1949 was absolutely timely under the circumstances, and brought about this visionary institutionalisation of the United States in European security.

That stood us in excellent stead throughout the Cold War, and while there was the occasional transatlantic tension over issues like, for example, burdensharing, the Alliance stood rock solid in the face of many a provocation. And it was not just the extraordinary political solidarity that so marked out NATO: it was the forming of a common enterprise between nations which, so often throughout history, had been adversaries rather than partners. It still impresses me today when I attend NATO meetings to look round the table and see the countries represented, and the immense camaraderie and sense of common purpose that binds us together.

And looking round the table today, of course, tells us something about what has happened to the Alliance since the Cold War. Three new members joined in 1999 – three former members of the Warsaw Pact. Ten more former Eastern bloc countries want to be invited at this month’s Prague Summit. That is not bad for an organisation which some said had overstayed its welcome when the Berlin Wall came down.

So why is NATO still attractive to these countries? Why is it still the defence and security foundation stone for existing members?

There is one simple reason. It is because NATO’s fundamental benefit has not changed. That benefit is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members and to provide peace and security in the European and the North Atlantic area. The commitment of the North American Allies to come to Europe’s defence – the Article 5 obligation of the North Atlantic Treaty – is the glue that held the Alliance together during the Cold War. It remains the key factor in preserving European stability today. Now more than ever, in a world at risk from Weapons of Mass Destruction and international terrorism, collective defence is, and must remain, the foundation of our security.

Collective defence might be the headline – and it certainly sits at the heart of the Alliance’s Strategic Concept agreed at the Washington Summit in 1999 – but NATO does much more than that. As the Strategic Concept makes clear, NATO provides security; it is a forum for consultation; it promotes partnership; and it undertakes crisis management. I will say a few words on each of these.

Security is something we too often take for granted in the prosperous West. We cannot claim perfection, but at least people are educated, go to work and raise families free from war or conflict. A standard of living which many people in other parts of the world can only envy. NATO states something fundamental about the political maturity of the Euro-Atlantic region: we resolve our disputes peacefully; we do not intimidate or coerce each other; we have democratic institutions which serve the will of the people.

I have already talked about consultation, about the enormous benefits of bringing together nations with shared values to discuss and decide on the key issues of the day. I will not pretend that this is not sometimes a tough business: seeking consensus among 19 nations is never going to be plain-sailing, even among friends. But time and time again we achieve this. Time and time again, particularly in crisis situations, we prove that shared values are a solid foundation on which to take collective action.

Partnership was the great departure for NATO at the end of the Cold War. It was about nurturing the emerging democracies of Central and Eastern Europe, about showing them that there was a better way, about spreading the democratic ideal. And in all these senses, it has been an enormous success. Enlargement at Prague will be the principal result of this. Add to that the improved military interoperability we now have with partner states, and their contribution to various crisis management operations, and we have a considerable achievement. And partnership is catching: those states which NATO has worked hardest to engage – the aspirants – are now passing on the lessons they have learned to other partner states.

Crisis management was another departure for NATO. Why is it that critics of the Alliance so routinely forget the enormous achievement of NATO operations in the Balkans? What other organisation could have engaged in the way NATO has? What other organisation could have brought the Balkans back from the brink – and in many cases on the path to stability and full democratisation – in the way NATO has? The problem is that NATO’s critics don’t see the quiet, patient, unsung work that NATO personnel continue to put in on the ground in the Balkans. Critics do our armed forces an injustice when they neglect the crisis management dimension of NATO’s work.

But why use NATO for crisis management? Because countries like the United Kingdom, even the United States, lack the resources to carry out these missions alone. They can only be done collectively – and you need organisation and co-ordination to do it successfully. In other words, if NATO had not been created for its original 1949 purpose, we would have had to create something very much like it long before now.

So let us stop talking about whether NATO has a role. Let us talk instead about how we continue to make NATO relevant to a fast-moving strategic setting: a NATO that is structured and equipped, and flexible and responsive enough, to take on tomorrow’s challenges.

One of the basic founding reasons for creating NATO has not gone away. The need to maintain the engagement of the United States in European security is as vital as ever. The years since the end of the Cold War clearly demonstrated this to be true. But Americans are concerned that NATO needs to change, that Europeans lack the right capabilities, that current NATO structures may lack the required flexibility and deployability to lead and conduct operations in the new security environment. And they are right – NATO has not been ideally configured and equipped to tackle challenges like international terrorism.

The Prague Summit presents a unique opportunity to transform NATO to meet the challenges presented by new threats and the need to perform new missions. The UK wants to see a revitalised Alliance after Prague, ready for new roles and strengthened by new members, new and better partnerships, and new capabilities.

First and foremost, the Alliance needs to strengthen its capacity for action. This will include the establishment of a new Command Structure able efficiently to project power wherever it is needed, to provide command and control for effective and decisive action, and to sustain operations for as long as required. It will include building on the excellent work already undertaken in establishing a new Force Structure, based on High Readiness Forces HQs, by establishing a new NATO Response Force – the NRF. And it will include building on the achievements of the Defence Capabilities Initiative, or DCI, through the launch of a new programme, the Prague Capabilities Commitment. DCI hasn’t delivered all that we needed; we have good reason to believe that its successor will do better. Heads of State and Government are likely to make a number of important commitments to capability improvement at Prague, focused in particular on the specific requirements of the high readiness end of the NATO force structure, including the NRF.

But putting in place the right structures and capabilities is only part of the story. NATO is also all about teamwork. NATO has provided the interoperability – in language, doctrine, concepts, equipment, capabilities and training – to allow a large number of countries to work successfully together. That experience has value outside the Alliance too. Operations in Afghanistan are testimony to this, with NATO Allies forming the majority of the nations who deployed troops. They were entirely at home in working with one another because they knew each other from working within NATO. This is a key NATO role that is often overlooked.

Threats such as terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction can only be tackled with the international community working together. Enlarging NATO and enhancing its existing partnerships are therefore key steps in meeting current and future security challenges.

That is why I welcome the prospect of enlargement at Prague – a crucial part of the revitalisation of NATO and a clear sign that the relevance of NATO is increasing . All NATO members agree that enlargement will be good for the Alliance and good for the security and stability of Europe. I expect to see invitations to all those aspirants ready and willing to meet the responsibilities and obligations of membership. In their responses since September 11, all of the NATO aspirant states have demonstrated that they are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with NATO Allies and offer practical assistance wherever they can. There are signs of a consensus emerging in the Alliance that 7 will be invited. Let us see what Heads of State and Government say next week.

This will not be the last round of enlargement. NATO’s door will remain open. We will continue to provide incentives for reform, and the prospect of eventual membership, for new and continuing aspirants. The right place for them is within the Alliance – together we will continue to work towards that goal.

However, facing new security challenges is not only a matter for member nations. We need also to secure new partnerships and to consolidate existing ones. We have already taken a significant first step in this respect by seeking to build a new partnership with Russia. Those efforts have now proved successful and NATO and Russia have begun a new era of co-operation. This is an immensely important step forward for Euro-Atlantic security, and one that is already providing considerable benefits.

The United Kingdom is committed to developing the NATO-Russia Council. The level of trust and co-operation will continue to grow as Allies and Russia work together. Progress so far has been excellent. An active spirit of NATO-Russia co-operation is developing. Prague will provide an ideal opportunity to consolidate our new relationship.

In this unpredictable world therefore, we need NATO more than ever. And more than ever we need a NATO that has the flexibility, the structure, the forces and the strong partnerships that can face down the threats and challenges that are going to come our way. The Prague Summit presents a unique opportunity to get the NATO we need. We are determined to grasp that opportunity and, with equal commitment from Allies, we will ensure that the Alliance continues to play a key role in our future security.

The European Union

The growing need for a more effective European military contribution has been recognised in the European Union. Eleven EU nations are also NATO members, a number that is likely to rise following respective enlargement rounds. It follows that Europe has a hugely significant role to play in NATO. At the same time, the EU itself is emerging as a major actor on the world security stage.

The EU is evolving as a foreign policy entity through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, or CFSP, where 15 nations can speak as one on key issues. But this is not enough: experience in Kosovo, and elsewhere, showed us that there are times when words must be backed by military action. The European Security and Defence Policy, or ESDP, will give us the ability to do this, in two ways. First, by improving Europe’s military capabilities so that EU nations can make a better, and more coherent, contribution to NATO operations. Second, in co﷓operation with NATO, by giving the EU the ability to take military decisions and to undertake operations to meet the Petersberg tasks which range from humanitarian relief up to peace-making.

It is a common myth, put about by ESDP’s detractors, that allowing the EU to gain these abilities will somehow weaken NATO. I reject this totally. NATO is and will be the only organisation for collective defence in Europe. The EU initiative complements NATO. Modernisation of European capabilities will allow us to operate alongside all of our Allies more effectively, and, since many of the capability shortfalls in the EU mirror those in NATO, military improvements will benefit both. Arrangements for links between ESDP and NATO – the so-called Berlin Plus scheme – have taken longer to gel than we would have wished, but a little goodwill should get them in place soon.

Alongside our improved contribution to NATO, the EU will undertake crisis management operations where NATO as a whole is not engaged. Its capability is also intended to include rapid reaction elements able to respond quickly to crises. We are not creating a new military alliance to duplicate or rival NATO: we are giving ourselves the ability to play a more committed and responsible international role. The United Kingdom remains wholly committed to ESDP.


I referred a few moments ago to the need for a flexible and responsive NATO. If it is to remain relevant it must address not only today’s needs but also the new challenges emerging. NATO is already examining the threat to deployed forces from ballistic missiles. It also needs to look carefully at the emerging threat from ballistic missiles to the territory and population centres of NATO nations.

I raised this issue in the House of Commons on 17 October, because we need to think more about the dangers from the growing proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction and about how we should respond.

As I told the House, with the end of the ABM Treaty, the US programme on missile defence is gathering momentum. That is not to say that there is a quick and easy solution to be found within the next few years. Hitting a bullet with a bullet, which is often how the Americans describe their efforts, is no mean feat. But there are signs of progress:

· A testing programme demonstrating the increasing success of their interceptor missiles,

· Advances in radar technology creating the ability to detect ever more sophisticated threats.

There are many challenges still to be met. Assembling an elaborate warning system using a wide range of passive sensors deployed on land, at sea, in the air and in space and command and control – to direct fast-moving interceptors to targets moving at thousands of kilometres per hour. This may sound like the stuff of science-fiction but advances in technology are bringing closer the possibility of a credible and useful defence against limited numbers of missiles. What is achievable by when still remains uncertain. But we can expect the US to deploy ever more sophisticated solutions over decades, as the system evolves and improves.

This is a vast enterprise, involving cutting edge technologies. It will require a massive effort over the coming years. The US Administration is committed to that effort. But there are as yet no US decisions about the overall shape of the system they may deploy. They have plans for an extensive testbed or prototype system, which could if absolutely necessary double as an emergency operational capability. But the best architecture for defending the United States or its allies in Europe and beyond has yet to be determined, and will not be decided for some time yet. It follows that the Americans have not yet decided whether they need to use bases in the United Kingdom for this architecture. They have not asked us for such use, but clearly they may do so. We need therefore to consider the security issues that would arise. Not least amongst these is whether, and how, any UK involvement and participation in their developing systems will affect the security of the UK and of Europe.

Let me say straight away that I do not see a divergence between the basis of UK and US security interests. Our security interests coincide or are very similar, whether as part of our close bilateral relationship or within wider defence alliances such as NATO. Let me also make it clear that developing the capacity to defend against the threat of ballistic missile attack is in the interest of the UK and its people, just as much as it is in the interest of the United States. September 11 did not make the US a different target from the rest of the world; it made us all realise the nature of the threats that now confront us. And it reinforced the message that some groups and even states care nothing about – indeed actively welcome – large numbers of civilian casualties. And past conflicts have already demonstrated the potential of ballistic missiles to threaten, indeed strike, large population centres.

In posing the question in the House of Commons as to how the United Kingdom should respond to the threat of ballistic missiles, the underlying principle and aim of our policy must be to defend the UK and its people from attack. This is a fundamental responsibility for the Government. As we debate these issues in the coming months I urge all participants to remember this prime responsibility.

This Government agrees therefore with the United States that ballistic missiles are a threat to take seriously. We are equally concerned about the rate of proliferation. And as the threat grows, and technologies develop, there may come a day when we need to decide to add a further capability to our current range of responses by acquiring missile defences for the UK and for Europe as a whole – in the way the US has already decided.

We know that a number of states have acquired both weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, and some are seeking to extend their missile capability. There is the widely publicised example of Iraq, where Saddam Hussein has not only used weapons of mass destruction against his enemies, both internal and external, but also during the Gulf War used his ballistic missiles to attack coalition forces as well as civilian targets in Israel.

Despite his refusal to comply with his UN obligations and allow International Inspection of his weapons of mass destruction, we have clear evidence that Saddam is reconstituting his ballistic missile capabilities.

Ballistic missile proliferation is a fact we have to deal with, and a very real threat. When viewed in combination with programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, the international community has a right to ask why missiles of this range are wanted, what warheads they might carry to threaten population centres, and to consider how it should best respond. As increasing numbers of states acquire increasingly sophisticated technology. The reality is that once a ballistic missile has been launched against us, deterrence has failed and the only recourse left to us is to try to shoot it down.

Some argue that missile defence will somehow spark a new arms race, There is no evidence that this has happened or is happening. Indeed, the US withdrawal from the ABMT coincided with the negotiation and conclusion of the Moscow treaty, under which the US and Russia agreed to make steep reductions in the number of their deployed strategic nuclear warheads.

We are already pursuing many diplomatic means to address the drivers of missile proliferation, including by addressing regional insecurities and tensions. We are also strongly committed to multilateral arms control agreements, such at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. This helps to create an international consensus against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which in turn makes it easier to bear down on proliferators. Together with the US, we are also committed to preventing the spread of missile technology, through the Missile Technology Control Regime. There is no doubt that such measures have slowed the spread of proliferation. Their impact will grow as an international consensus is built around the need for tight controls to prevent the further spread of dangerous technologies.

There is an obvious gap in the network of international treaties where missiles are concerned. That is why we and our EU partners have taken a lead in promoting the establishment of a politically-binding International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, which will be launched at a meeting in the Hague later this month. The Code will not be a panacea that solves the missile problem: other measures will be needed. But it will be a visible expression of the international community’s determination to address the unrestrained spread of these destabilising weapons. And, by promoting a number of confidence building measures, it can help to limit the damage to stability in regions where such proliferation has already happened.

Let me finally set out some questions for debate on one further aspect, that of deterrence. I raise these questions against the background that the old certainties of deterrence during the Cold War have changed. Mutually Assured Destruction is no longer central to our thinking. We have to think through how to deter – and I am not talking here solely, or even mainly, of nuclear deterrence – in a new and infinitely more complex international environment. Across nearly half a century of Cold War, a huge intellectual effort was dedicated to elaborating and broadcasting the doctrines of deterrence. They entered deep into the subconscious of political and strategic leaders on both sides of the old Cold War confrontation. Like chess games subjected to infinite analysis, the risk/reward calculus that one party to that confrontation might make in contemplating a move to secure advantage were known to the other party almost as well as to the potential aggressor himself. In the end, the state of being deterred became a habit of mind. We still need to be able to deter states with large nuclear capabilities; despite many financial pressures, Russia continues to keep up-to-date and effective nuclear systems; and more countries are acquiring nuclear weapons all the time.

Now we also have additional actors to consider, people who may be far removed in attitudes, values and preconceptions from the cautious and conservative members of the old Soviet Politburo. We can no longer be so confident what will, and what will not, influence their calculations and behaviour. In particular, where an individual or tiny clique has seized power, and acquired a WMD capability, how might they react in the final throes of facing loss of power personally? In this more uncertain international strategic context it worth thinking hard about whether a defensive system against a limited ballistic missile attack might serve to reinforce and complement in some special cases the general deterrence provided by our conventional and nuclear weapons. The impact could be salutary, not only on the calculations of a proliferator perhaps contemplating the use of a few ballistic missiles as a desperate last throw, but also upon those weighing the pros and cons of embarking on the costly and difficult path of developing or procuring them in the first place. We have to that extent a new problem – of the rogue state with a limited but dangerous capacity. It is in the interests of all responsible states to confront this. Missile defence has the potential to enhance strategic stability for everyone.

The leader of a rogue state contemplating a ballistic missile attack on the UK or an ally would need to reckon not only with the near certainty of a powerful retaliatory response, but also with the possibility that active defences would prevent his attack from succeeding at all. Ballistic missile attack on the United Kingdom or our interests involving weapons of mass destruction would be an overt and undeniable form of assault. Would he be prepared to take the risk in these circumstances? Of course, proliferators will be thinking about deterrence too. We have to reckon with the possibility that one attraction in the pursuit of Ballistic Missile and Weapons of Mass Destruction programmes is the thought that the capability to hold at risk the homelands of Western nations might make the proliferator miscalculate that he has some immunity.

These are reasons for thinking hard about missile defence. The debate is hugely challenging, and still in its early days. We neither can nor should leap to conclusions that ignore that reality. But it is time to debate the issues.


I have deliberately taken a broad interpretation of the title of this lecture. The realisation that we needed the ability to ‘intervene’ describes very well the principal conclusions of the Strategic Defence Review, including the creation of Defence Diplomacy and the Joint Rapid Reaction Force. This thinking has reshaped the whole of our defence effort since the SDR concluded in 1998, and continues to do so.

We had already, in 1998, faced up to the fact that post-Cold War British security interests demanded the ability to intervene beyond the old ‘NATO area’. Perhaps some thought we were wrong, that we were clinging to an international role and armed forces of a size that were not necessary in the absence of a major external threat. But September 11th underlined the fact that homeland security – the fundamental responsibility of any government – cannot begin and end at our own borders, or even those of NATO. Those who thought that Britain could have chosen a more limited role for itself in the modern security environment have been proven wrong. Those who think that NATO is irrelevant are similarly misguided.

Finally, just as we have little choice but to engage in a more complex international arena, so we also have to face up to a more diverse and uncertain range of potential threats, and assess the demands they may place upon our future capabilities. Network Centric technology is a critical element of the response to terrorism. We also have to look again at new elements of the potential threat posed by Ballistic Missiles; Ballistic Missile Defence may be one element of the response. We will address the issue with the same thorough approach that characterised the development of the SDR and the New Chapter.

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