Michael Fallon – 2017 Statement on Franklin Wrecks

Below is the text of the speech made by Sir Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, in the House of Commons on 23 October 2017.

I have today laid before Parliament a Ministry of Defence departmental minute detailing a gift which the UK intends to make to the Government of Canada. This reflects our long shared history and the closeness of our current bilateral relationship.

Sir John Franklin set sail from England in 1845 with two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, in search of a Northwest Passage through the Arctic. Sadly, the ships and all their crew were lost.

In 1992, the wrecks were designated as a national historic site by the Canadian Government under the Canadian Historic Sites and Monuments Act—despite neither shipwreck having been found at that time. This significant step was taken as a result of the ships’ association with Franklin’s final expedition, and their role in the history of exploration of Canada’s north and the development of Canada as a nation.

Recognising the significance of these ships to the people of Canada, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the UK and Canadian Governments in 1997 assigning custody and control of the wrecks along with their contents to the Government of Canada (Parks Canada) with certain conditions should they be discovered.

Many attempts were made over the years to locate the ships, but only artefacts were found. The ships remained undiscovered until September 2014 when an expedition led by Parks Canada discovered the wreck of HMS Erebus. In September 2016, HMS Terror was also found.

Both wrecks are under relatively shallow Arctic Waters to the south of King William Island. The expeditions that located them brought together the Government of Canada as well as public, private and non-profit organizations. The use of state-of-the-art technology combined with Inuit knowledge made these historic discoveries possible.​

During her recent visit to Canada, the Prime Minister made clear the importance of recognising our shared past. As the wrecks are of great historical and cultural value to Canada and recognising the historical significance of the Franklin expedition to the people of Canada, the Government believe the 1997 MOU should be replaced with an appropriate updated MOU, giving full ownership of the wrecks to Parks Canada. It is intended that the new MOU will include a clause to allow the UK to retain ownership of a small representative sample of artefacts. This exceptional arrangement will ensure that these historically significant wrecks and artefacts are appropriately conserved and allow items to be displayed for future generations in both Canadian and United Kingdom museums.

The transfer of ownership is expected to be undertaken over the coming weeks, subject to completion of the departmental minute process.

Michael Fallon – 2017 Speech at Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, at the Conservative Party conference held in Manchester on 3 October 2017.

This week we set out plans for a Global Britain that stands up for our people and for our values.

This city needs no reminding of the threats from extremists who want to destroy our way of life.

When I became Defence Secretary, Daesh terrorists were at the gates of Baghdad, enslaving women, beheading British hostages, and throwing gay people off buildings. And when the democratic Government of Iraq appealed for help, Britain answered the call.

At our conference three years ago, I announced the first successful RAF airstrike.

As of last night there have been 1,600 airstrikes.

The Army has trained 60,000 Iraqi forces.

The Royal Navy has been guarding the United States carriers in the Gulf.

Daesh is being defeated.

The black flags have been torn down.

Three million people have been freed from its murderous rule.

So we should be very proud of the contribution of our Armed Forces to this success.

And I am delighted to tell you that a new medal will be awarded to those servicemen and women who are doing so much to fight the evil of our time.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me they deserve nothing less.

Conference, terrorism is not the only threat to our security.

Russian aggression with the highest level of submarine activity since the Cold War, thousands of troops exercising on NATO’s borders.

North Korea firing ballistic missiles over Japan.

Cyber-attacks on our national health service and on our Parliament.

So we are stepping up our response.

Today our armed forces are on operations in more than 25 countries, they’re helping to stop Afghanistan become a haven for terrorists. They’re training Ukraine’s Armed Forces to defend themselves against Russian aggression.

They’re in Nigeria helping to tackle terrorists and they’re supporting United Nations peacekeeping in Somalia and South Sudan and we are leading in NATO – our Army deploying in Estonia and Poland; RAF Typhoons protecting the Black Sea skies; and the Royal Navy leading NATO’s maritime task groups.

And our Armed Forces are also ready for anything.

Look at our response to the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the Caribbean.

RFA Mounts Bay was already on station to provide immediate assistance – helping our people, the people of the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos.

Within a week we had deployed 600 service personnel, 3 helicopters, and one Foreign Secretary. We even flew French supplies from Normandy to Guadalupe.

From Asia Pacific, to the Middle East, to Europe we are deepening our defence ties with allies and partners. And we have no greater ally, Conference, than the United States.

In Defence Secretary Jim Mattis we have a true friend of our nation with whom I work closely with on Russia, on North Korea, and on the campaign against Daesh. And here at home our Armed Forces are patrolling our skies and seas, every hour of every day.

Every one of them deserves our gratitude.

Conference, there is no better statement to the world of our ambition for Britain than our two new aircraft carriers. Weighing 65,000 tonnes, they each provide four acres of sovereign territory, deployable around the globe, to serve on operations for the next 50 years.

Made in Britain, built in six ship yards, assembled in Scotland, they are a tribute to British engineering, British technology, British skills – the pride of our nation.

And yes, there will be fighter planes on them.

We already have 12 F35 jets with 120 pilots and ground crew training up in the United States, before the first Squadron arrives at RAF Marham next summer.

And what does Jeremy Corbyn have to say in response?

He’s asked “why do we have to be able to have planes, transport aircraft, aircraft carriers, and everything else to get anywhere in the world?”

Well, you don’t get very far without them. He wants to slash defence spending.

He wouldn’t authorise drone strikes on terrorists. He would abandon our NATO allies.

We must never put the security of our country in the hands of a man whose warped worldview puts him side of those who threaten us. We are backing up our ambition with the fifth biggest defence budget in the world.

A budget that our manifesto committed to increasing by at least half a per cent above inflation in every year of this parliament. Of course you’ll always find retired Admirals or Generals who like more.

What matters isn’t just numbers: it’s power: stronger, smarter defence. We’re now investing £18 billion a year – by the way that really is £350m a week. In the last three years we’ve started building seven new ships and submarines for the Royal Navy. Now I want to see more of our ships out there patrolling the seven seas.

So today, Conference, I am announcing £800 million of support contracts that will produce faster turnaround and improve the availability of the Royal Navy’s world class warships. The Army is getting new attack helicopters, and new armoured vehicles built in Wales.

For the RAF, 16 new transport aircraft have joined our fleet, and 9 maritime patrol aircraft will start arriving in Lossiemouth. Under Theresa May’s leadership, we are also renewing our nuclear deterrent, building four Dreadnought class submarines.

North Korea’s illegal testing underlines just how irresponsible it would be to scrap the deterrent that protects us. It is all very well Jeremy Corbyn saying he would never use nuclear weapons but Manchester and London are closer to Pyongyang than Los Angeles. Being prepared, in the most extreme circumstances, to use nuclear weapons is what separates a Prime Minister from a pacifist.

As we grow our defence budget we must continue to modernise the way we work.

To modernise how we equip our Armed Forces, everything from ration packs to medical kit, will save £600m.

Improving how we run our test and training sites will deliver £300M of further savings.

And as those threats intensify we are now looking across government to make sure we are doing enough, spending enough, to properly protect our country against all of them – cyber, hybrid warfare, rogue states, terrorist attacks.

Spending 2 % of GDP on defence is the minimum NATO commitment. We meet it but we should aim to do better still.

One of the privileges as Defence Secretary is meeting the outstanding people who make up our Armed Forces. Many of them started as cadets. This morning I visited Albion Academy in Salford, one of 150 new cadet units we have already set up. They are instilling values of resolve and service, discipline and loyalty – from which we can all learn.

So today I am announcing the creation of a further 30 new cadet units in state schools.

I also want to attract more ethnic minority and female recruits.

I set a target for 10 per cent of recruits in future to come from a black, Asian, or minority ethnic background by 2020 – seven per cent now do.

They’re joining some who have already reached the ranks of Brigadier, Commodore, and Air Commodore. We are also on track to meet our target that 15% of new recruits should be female – but I want to do even better.

So I’m opening up every single role in our Armed Forces to women so that talent, not gender, determines how far you can go.

And I will expect the next Chief of the Defence Staff – he or she… – to champion more diversity in the leadership of our Armed Forces.

I will also lead a new Ministerial Covenant and Veterans Board to look after our servicemen and women better when they leave. Often the worst scars are the ones we can’t see, so we will deliver mental health services better tailored for veterans.

Conference, I’m tackling other injustices too

Thanks to our evidence, thousands of false legal claims against our Armed Forces have been dismissed, the solicitor involved has been struck off, and I’ve shut down the Iraq Historic Allegations Tribunal.

And I am working with James Brokenshire to make sure that investigations into killings during the Troubles focus on terrorists, not those who protected our people.

And I will ensure that our former servicemen are fully supported throughout.

Conference, under this government we will go on increasing defence spending. Our magnificent armed forces will keep us safe.

But as citizens of a truly Global Britain we have a wider, deeper responsibility.

We must defend our values too.

Britain, this great country, stands as a beacon to the world for our commitment to freedom, democracy, tolerance, and the rule of law.

We face terrorism and aggression from those who hate not because those values are losing but because they are winning – values that have lifted millions around the globe out of oppression and poverty.

With the fifth biggest defence budget in the world, we have the means. So we must always be ready to answer the call from further away, from fragile democracies, from the very poorest, from the hardest hit.

That means deploying our ships, our planes, and yes, our troops on the ground where we and our allies are asked to help.

Standing up for what we believe in – that is Global Britain.

Michael Fallon – 2017 Speech at Faslane

Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, on 29 September 2017.

It is a huge pleasure to welcome Permanent and Military Representatives of NATO to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde.

Our nation’s commitment to the Alliance – the bedrock of our defence – remains absolute.

In the past year alone we’ve increased our NATO efforts: policing Black Sea skies, leading half of its maritime missions and upping our efforts to mentor Afghan officers. And today, our Prime Minister is in Estonia visiting the 800 UK troops who, supported by our French and Danish allies, are leading NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence providing vital reassurance to our Eastern European allies.

But there’s no greater illustration of our commitment to NATO which, after all, remains a nuclear alliance than our investment in the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent submarine force. And today, we mark the milestone of its 350th patrol at its home base.

So, before I continue, I would like to thank our brave submariners and our submarine enterprise as a whole. For almost 50 years their efforts and those of their forebears have kept us safe every hour of every day. They remain the ultimate guarantors of our security.

And this event offers us a unique opportunity to remind ourselves why our nuclear programme remains so significant.

Protect Our People

First, it’s about protecting our people. Our nuclear deterrent remains our only defence against the most extreme threats to our way of life.

Those threats are intensifying whether they come from North Korea’s latest nuclear testing setting off a hydrogen bomb, launching ballistic missiles and reinforcing her reckless defiance of the international community. Or Russia, which not content with aggression in Ukraine and Crimea, has over the last few years repeatedly ramped up its nuclear rhetoric and in its latest exercise involving some 50,000 troops massed on the borders of Eastern Europe will also test nuclear capable ballistic missiles.

Now the UK remains firmly committed to the long term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. As Secretary of State, I reduced the number of deployed warheads on each submarine from 48 to 40 and the number of operationally available warheads to no more than 120. Just as we remain committed to reducing our overall stockpile of nuclear warheads to no more than 180 by the mid-2020s.

Yet, at the same time, we remain realistic. The total number of nuclear weapons in the world did not suddenly fall. Much as we would love to live in a world without nuclear weapons. We cannot uninvent them.

Our deterrent ensures our adversaries are left in no doubt that the benefits of any attack will be vastly outweighed by the consequences.

No credible alternative exists. And we see no reason to change our posture.

Protect Our Alliance But this brings me back to the point at which I started. Our nuclear deterrent isn’t just essential for our security. it’s essential for NATO’s security as well. It forms one of the Alliance’s key centres of decision making that complicates the calculations of our adversaries.

What is more, many nations, represented here today signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the late 1960s, safe in the knowledge they were covered by NATO’s nuclear umbrella including the United Kingdom deterrent. Not only did that deal help halt the nuclear arms race at the time, it has helped to cut the world’s nuclear stockpile by 85%.

It is no coincidence there hasn’t been a major conflict involving nuclear powered states since the end of the Second World War.

Protect Our Future

Finally, our independent deterrent is a promise to protect our future. We don’t know what threats lie around the corner.

Yet by giving the next generation every means necessary – from the conventional though to the nuclear – to deal with whatever comes round the corner.

We are strengthening their hand ensuring that they will have the means to deter potential threats into the 2040s, 2050s, 2060s and beyond.

That is why today we’re building four Dreadnought class submarines which will enter service in the early 2030’s.

That is why we’re continuing to spend £1.3 billion over the next three years on facilities here at Faslane. And that is why we are building on the incredible advanced manufacturing skills found across Scotland to transform this base into a Royal Navy submarine centre of specialisation a base for all UK submarines providing 6,800 jobs now and 8,200 in the future.


So I hope you find your visit instructive and informative.

You can rely on the UK to remain not just 100 per cent committed to our NATO alliance but 100 per cent committed to our deterrent – a message Parliament confirmed overwhelmingly last year when it voted to maintain CASD. At the same time, we can never be complacent.

As we look towards next year’s NATO summit and beyond we must not just ensure the Alliance’s political and military leaders continue recognising the importance of nuclear capabilities as NATO adapts and modernise but continues to make the case about the importance of nuclear weapons to a new generation.

Our national safety the strength of our Alliance and the security of the world depends on it.

Michael Fallon – 2016 Speech on Britain’s Global Role


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, in Washington on 21 July 2016.

This year marks 70 years on from Winston Churchill’s famous speech “The Sinews of Peace” delivered in Fulton, Missouri in March 1946 in which he talked about the “special relationship.”

While that phrase is well known, it is perhaps less well known that Churchill was in the United States to receive an honorary degree from Westminster College.

An apt name as Westminster was the place he received a large part of his political education. And Churchill more than anyone seemed to embody the will of the British people.

To the extent that both sides in the recent Referendum campaign sought to claim that he would have backed their particular position.

We can’t ever be sure how Churchill would have voted.

We do know that whatever the outcome he would have accepted the result, rolled up his sleeves and got on and delivered using all the considerable powers at his command to help us forge a new path.

Now I’m very much aware that vote has raised questions about the implications for Britain’s role in the world.

I’m here to assure you that we have a new Prime Minister

…technically a new government

…who wants Britain to continue to play a global role

…a government that is determined to make Brexit a success

…but a government that will put security front and centre of its efforts.

Today I’d like to set out the UK’s government’s approach.

It is based around 3 things.

1. Defence of our values

First, on the defence of our values of democracy, of the rule of law, and of freedom.

Back in that speech of 1946, Churchill memorably imagined an “Iron Curtain” spreading from east to west across Europe.

Today the Cold War is over but new threats continue… that spread an equally serious shadow.

In recent weeks we’ve seen the horrific truck attack on innocent men, women and children from France enjoying a summer’s evening on Bastille Day.

That attack and the others we’ve seen over the last year in places as far apart as Orlando, Brussels, Paris, Ankara, and Baghdad are similar r manifestations of extremism.

This isn’t the only danger we’re facing.

We’re seeing a resurgent Russia and a more assertive China.

We’re seeing North Korea continuing to rattle the nuclear sabre.

We’re seeing cyber attacks on states as well as companies and hybrid warfare.

Dangers which, taken together, seek to undermine our rules based international order on which the security and prosperity of ourselves and the next generation depend.

Like Churchill, we believe Britain, like the US, has a responsibility not just to defend its own security but the global system itself.

And we do have have the will and intent to respond to those threats whenever, or wherever, they come from.

Thanks to the Strategic Defence and Security Review we published before the end of last year, we are going to match that will with greater capacity.

Our SDSR gives us stronger defence with more than $200 billion to spend over the next 10 years on a more agile Joint Force with more ships, more planes, more troops at readiness, better equipment for Special Forces, and increased spend on cyber.

Let me tell you about those forces.

Last year our forces were active all round the world.

Some 80,000 soldiers deployed on more than 383 commitments during the year.

More than 30,000 sailors deployed, on over 700 ship visits, from Africa to Asia, Europe to Latin America.

More than 10,000 Royal Air Force personnel deployed in over 60 countries on operations, training exercises and defence engagement.

And we will have a similar level of effort this year.

2. Stronger NATO, stronger defence

My second point is that to defend our values we will rely on a stronger more united NATO.

And we will continue helping that alliance to adapt.

Two years ago our Prime Minister, David Cameron then stood with your President at the Wales Summit and challenged other nations to step up, to spend more on defence and new capabilities.

Since then we have led by example.

And having honoured our pledge to meet the 2% target we’re now seeing other nations follow suit.

Twenty allies have now increased their spending since Wales and the overall decline in alliance defence spending has been halted.

As well as increasing spending, NATO has now agreed its Readiness Action Plan to ensure that the allies can respond swiftly and strongly.

Once more the UK is at the forefront of these efforts.

Our Typhoons are today conducting Baltic air-policing missions from a base in Estonia.

Our ships are making a significant contribution to NATO’s naval forces.

And we will lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Taskforce next year, with 3,000 UK troops ready to deploy within days.

And at last month’s Warsaw Summit we again helped to lead the way as NATO adapted its deterrence posture to challenges from east and south.

In the east, we are helping to reinforce the Wales’ commitment to act against aggression by delivering an enhanced forward presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

The UK is one of four nations to lead a framework battalion, including the United States.

These battalions will be defensive in nature, but fully combat capable. Our force will be located in Estonia with 2 UK companies, a headquarters element and equipment including armoured vehicles, Javelin anti-tank guided missiles and mortars.

That contribution will be underpinned by our network of allies, including our partnerships with the French and the Danes… “multi-national by design”, reflecting the “international by design” approach in our SDSR.

In addition, to positing a formed Battalion to Estonia we will also deploy a company group of troops to Poland.

We also continue to train the Ukrainian Armed Forces with a further 4,000 troops due to be trained by this year.

All this is NATO’s response to Russian aggression.

A response rooted in balancing strong defence and dialogue.

Dialogue where it is right and in our interests to deliver hard messages to promote transparency and build the understanding necessary to avoid the risk of miscalculation.

As well as its efforts in the east, the alliance is also enhancing its role in the south.

We are increasingly seeing unstable, or fragile states threaten our collective security.

Putting a greater onus on NATO’s role in tackling potential conflict at source.

And following the Wales Summit NATO now has a defence capacity building initiative, to provide more tailored support to project stability.

And we will conduct more training and capacity building under a NATO auspices inside Iraq.

NATO’s biggest operation is its Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. That mission has helped local forces take on the responsibility for providing security across their country.

As a leading member of NATO, it is right that we stand by our allies and the Afghan people as they seek to build a safer Afghanistan because that also helps to keep our streets safe.

So next year, we will be increasing our t troop contribution by 10% to help build the capacity of the Afghan security institutions. And let me welcome the United States’ on going commitment to that particular mission.

Finally, we have promoted and supported initiatives that respond to the longer-term demands of 21st century warfare with initiatives on cyber and hybrid warfare among others agreed at Warsaw.

Nuclear deterrent

But if our defence and deterrence are to retain their credibility, they must respond to both conventional and nuclear dangers.

NATO remains a nuclear alliance, and our independent nuclear deterrent in Britain makes a key contribution to the overall security of the alliance.

That’s contribution recognised by the Warsaw Communiqué, and I quote:

“The independent strategic nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France have a deterrent role of their own and contribute to the overall security of the alliance. These allies’ separate centres of decision making contribute to deterrence by complicating the calculations of potential adversaries.”

And what’s clear to us, as the world becomes more dangerous and unpredictable, is that the nuclear threat has not gone away. If anything, it is increasing.

We can’t today second guess the sorts of extreme threats to our very existence that we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s.

So our deterrent gives us that priceless advantage so that our adversaries know that the cost of an attack on the UK or our allies will always be far greater than anything it might hope to gain.

So our Defence Review committed to building 4 new Successor submarines to replace the Vanguard class which start going out of service in the early 2030s.

On Monday this week the Prime Minister made it her first duty in Parliament to lead the debate on renewing that nuclear deterrent.

And the House of Commons voted by an overwhelming majority of 355, over 100 more than when it was last debated in 2007, to maintain our deterrent to protect our way of life and that of our allies.

3. US-UK partnership

A powerful NATO is vital to our future.

So too are our key bilateral relationships.

And leaving the EU means will be we will be working harder to commit to NATO and our key allies.

We are now focused on reshaping our relationship with Europe, restoring sovereignty to the British Parliament but making sure our security, and trading relationship remain strong, while we forge new relationships right across the globe

70 years on from Churchill’s speech, the UK still has no stronger ally than the US.

We’re proud that together we continue to lead the world on security.

Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in our operations against Daesh.

At the end of last year, the UK erased the stain of its previous Syria vote in Parliament in 2013 with the new Parliament voting overwhelmingly to extend our airstrikes from Iraq to Syria.

Since then we’ve upped the intensity of our efforts.

Our aircrews have conducted more airstrikes in Iraq and Syria than any other country other than the United States.

Our aircraft are co-ordinating Coalition aircraft and providing a significant amount of the Coalition’s overall ISR.

And those collective efforts are paying off. Daesh has lost 40% of the territory it once held. Major progress has been made in the key cities of Ramadi, Hit and Fallujah.

But we’re going this year to go further.

At the Counter Daesh ministerial. which I have just come from, we have focused on reviewing our campaign plan and building on the progress we’ve already seen in the Euphrates River Valley and Tigris River Valley.

And we are responding to calls for the Coalition to accelerate its efforts by increasing our presence in Iraq.

We will be sending additional trainers to Al Asad Airbase in Western Iraq to instruct more Iraqi Troops in how they counter improvised explosive devices, improve infantry skills and provide combat first aid.

Those extra trainers will be working closely with US and Danish forces, providing training to the Iraqi Army 7th Division to their Border Guards and Federal Police.

We’re providing more people to assist in guarding the airbase, personnel to form an HQ to command the mission, and an engineering squadron to build the necessary infrastructure.

Those efforts as part of the Counter-Daesh coalition are just a small illustration of our co-operation with the US.

A collaboration as broad as it is deep.

And that joint-working is only set to intensify.

On exercises we’ve recently agreed to integrate a UK division more effectively into a US corps.

And on equipment there’s on going collaboration on F-35 and a week ago we saw this fifth generation fighter soaring over our new Queen Elizabeth carrier from whose decks they will fly in years to come.

And I look forward to the day when not only do our planes fly from your carriers but your planes too fly from ours.

And our carriers will be protected by another of our new equipment collaborations.

Our 9 new P-8 maritime patrol aircraft whose multi-billion dollar purchase I announced last week…alongside a further decision to buy 50 Apache attack helicopters.

But besides thinking of today’s technologies, we’re looking together with the US to tomorrow’s.

Last year, on his visit to London, Ash Carter and I challenged our 2 teams to develop together new technologies, new disruptive capabilities and new concepts of operation.

And we’re now seizing on the exciting opportunities. Last week, we announced the first project to develop autonomous robotic technologies…driverless technology that can ferry equipment over that last, most dangerous mile up to the frontline

That’s the kind of collaboration that will help us maintain the West’s technological edge.

And it’s that fraternal association between Britain and the US that Churchill was speaking about 70 years ago when he said:

“If all British moral and material forces and convictions are joined with your own in fraternal association, the high roads of the future will be clear, not only for us but for all, not only for our time, but for a century to come”

In conclusion, let me reassure you, Britain is not stepping back. On the contrary, we’re stepping up.

Standing up for our values.

Strengthening NATO.

Backing our nuclear deterrent.

And seeking a stronger alliance than ever with you in the US.

There’s been much speculation in recent weeks about our defence and security policy.

Let me reassure you.

The UK is leaving the EU.

But we’ve not forgotten that deterrence and defence are underpinned by cohesion and solidarity.

We’re still committed to those vital sinews of peace.

And we remain committed to European security and we are not turning our back on Europe or the world.

Michael Fallon – 2016 Speech on the Iraq Inquiry Report


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, in the House of Commons on 14 July 2016.

This has indeed been a considered and moving debate, as befits such a serious subject. I believe that more than 50 Members have contributed over the last two days, and I join them in thanking Sir John and his colleagues, including the late Sir Martin Gilbert, for their immense efforts. They have produced a report that I think we all now agree is comprehensive, accurate, and an unvarnished record of the events, and they have been unremitting in their efforts to understand the causes and consequences of the Iraq war and its aftermath. We are all in their debt.

I hope that members of the armed forces and their families are able to find some measure of consolation in the report’s acknowledgement of their enormous service. Our thoughts remain with them. We should bear in mind what Sir John says about the efforts of the men and women of the armed forces: that the initial war-fighting phase was a military success. They did fight to help topple a tyrant who had murdered hundreds of thousands of his own people, and the subsequent failures in the campaign, at whoever’s door they are laid, cannot and should not be laid at the door of those who did the fighting on our behalf.

However, Sir John also makes it clear that the United Kingdom did not achieve its overall strategy objectives in Iraq. There were too many challenges in too many different areas. There was a lack of leadership across Government, and there was too much group-think in our military, security and intelligence cultures, which stopped short of challenging key decisions. That point has been made many times over the last couple of days. There was flawed intelligence, which led to assertions—particularly in relation to WMD—that could not be justified. There was a fatal lack of post-war planning, and lessons from previous conflicts and exercises had not been properly learned. We also failed, as the campaign unravelled, to adapt to the changing situation on the ground, and there were significant equipment shortfalls for our troops, listed in some detail by the hon. Member for East Renfrewshire (Kirsten Oswald). There was much in that campaign that—whatever else we do—we must try to avoid in the future.

It will not, I think, be possible for me to refer to every single speech made over the last couple of days. The hon. Member for Norwich South (Clive Lewis) picked out some of the more memorable. We have heard speeches of anger and speeches of remorse, and we have heard thought-provoking speeches about the overall effect of the Iraq war on our process and our political culture.

We have heard speeches from those who played significant roles at the time. The right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) spoke very illuminatingly of the need for humility, given that so many of those who were involved professionally were able to reach the same conclusions without properly challenging the existing culture, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) spoke of the drive to converge our views with those of the United States. The right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) underlined the importance of planning for reconstruction in any military action. The House also had the benefit of the military experience of my hon. Friends the Members for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat), and for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer). I was particularly struck by the speech made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden), who reminded the House that Islamic terrorism did not start in 2003; it was there long before that, and other countries were also engaged in trying to deal with it.

The question the House has to ask itself is this: given that we all want to avoid this happening again in the future, have there been sufficient, significant changes for the better? I suggest to the House that there have been some changes for the better. First, we in Government are better co-ordinated. We now have the National Security Council, which ensures that decision-making is dealt with in a joined-up way across Government. The NSC includes not only Ministers from the main Departments, but the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the heads of the intelligence services, relevant senior officials and the Attorney General.

Dr Julian Lewis

The Secretary of State has just listed the membership of the National Security Council. While it is revealing that all the intelligence services are individually represented, it is a fact that all the armed forces are represented only by the Chief of the Defence Staff. Will he give consideration to the Defence Committee’s suggestion that the Chiefs of Staff Committee could serve more usefully if it was constituted as the military sub-committee of the NSC?

Michael Fallon

I heard my right hon. Friend’s speech earlier today, in which he made that point at some length. I caution him against over-complicating the structure we have and setting up sub-committees of it. The armed forces are represented through the Chief of the Defence Staff, who attends not only the NSC, but the officials’ meeting that precedes it.

Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con)

My right hon. Friend is, I am delighted to say, serving in his current role under his second Prime Minister, and I trust he will serve under several more yet. [Interruption.] If we keep having leadership crises. As he has experience of Cabinet Government and the NSC, and as he remembers serving in Government decades ago under former Prime Ministers, will he, with the new leader of the Government, consider the possibility of the Cabinet sitting for slightly longer than one and a half hours each week, particularly when pressing issues are on the agenda, and of more readily having individual briefings before issues are considered at Cabinet?

Similarly, will my right hon. Friend consider whether the NSC might be more flexible as to the length of meetings, whether briefings might be given to members before the NSC sits, and whether matters might be returned to at subsequent meetings if there is a basis for challenging the advice given? We obviously have a difficult four years to go through; does my right hon. Friend agree that more collective government might be a good way of proceeding?

Michael Fallon

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend, particularly for his kind words. I am now serving my fourth Conservative Prime Minister; I do not think I have quite matched my right hon. and learned Friend’s record, but I am closing in on it. I will not be drawn on the possibility of serving yet another, given that my right hon. Friend the new Prime Minister has only been in office for a day. She and I did sit together on the NSC, as well as in Cabinet, and one can always look at these things again. It is not for me to instruct the new Prime Minister on how to run her Cabinet, but I will certainly ensure that my right hon. and learned Friend’s suggestion is passed on.

The NSC is a significant improvement on what went before it, in my right hon. and learned Friend’s time in government, and it is certainly an improvement on the kind of sofa government that the Chilcot report exposes. The NSC does not operate in a vacuum. The National Security Adviser, who attends it, is now a well-established position in Government, supported by a strong team, and the NSC and the adviser are supported by a structure of cross-government boards and sub-committees, to which the Ministry of Defence makes a full contribution. To answer the point raised by the Chairman of the Defence Committee, there is no shortage of ways in which the views of the chiefs are brought forward in that structure.

Dr Julian Lewis

I see a slight contradiction in the Secretary of State saying that it would over-complicate the machinery of the National Security Council if the heads of the armed services were allowed to form one of its sub-committees, given that there is evidently no shortage of other sub-committees. The fact remains that it is easier for politicians with bees in their bonnets to sweep aside the views of the Chief of the Defence Staff as a single individual, which appears to have happened in the case of Libya, than it is for them to sweep aside the views of the heads of the armed forces collectively. I wish that the Secretary of State would not be so resistant on this point.

Michael Fallon

As I have said, the heads of the armed forces are represented on the National Security Council by the Chief of the Defence Staff, and the Chief of the Defence Staff who has been serving up to now is certainly not likely to be disregarded by the politicians who sit on the committee. Both he and his successor—I hope that the House will welcome the arrival of the new Chief of the Defence Staff today—are well able to hold their own against the politicians.

Clive Lewis

Would the Secretary of State acknowledge that Baroness Neville-Jones, one of the architects of the NSC, has said that the secretariat that co-ordinates the NSC is understaffed and under-resourced? Another criticism is that there is a lack of outside expertise being brought into the NSC, and that more use could be made of such experts.

Michael Fallon

I read the Baroness’s speech, and I advise all Members to have a look at the debate on this matter in the other place. It had some memorable contributions, including from people who were actively involved at the time. The point that the hon. Gentleman makes about the need for external expertise has been made before. External expertise is of course available to the different Departments, and I am convinced that the new machinery is a massive improvement on what was there before.

Mr Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) (Con)

I think that the Secretary of State has laid to rest the canard that the NSC operates without expertise, but I should like to reinforce that point. It is evident from the 2010 example of the strategic defence and security review that we on the NSC conducted, and from subsequent events, that expertise from the greatest experts in the country is frequently heard and always available to the NSC. Such expertise also populates the significant briefing papers that go before the NSC and informs the judgments that it makes.

Michael Fallon

I can confirm that that is exactly the position. There is no shortage of briefing for members of the NSC. They are able to bring that expertise to the regular meetings of the council and to question the experts who are present. The recent strategic defence and security review shows how a cross-Whitehall approach is being implemented in practice and leading to better decision making.

Tom Brake

On that point about cross-departmental arrangements working more effectively, does the Secretary of State feel that any of the lessons identified in Chilcot in relation to reconstruction in Iraq might already have been fed through in relation to what happened in Libya? It is not obvious that that is the case.

Michael Fallon

I shall talk about the lesson on the importance of planning for reconstruction in a moment. I just want to finish this important point about the machinery of government.

The Ministry of Defence has revamped its strategy and policy making with the institution of an annual defence plan that reflects the outcomes of the strategic defence and security reviews, with senior leaders in the Ministry being individually held to account for their role in delivering it, and a defence strategy group, chaired by the permanent secretary and the Chief of the Defence Staff, to address how Defence can best contribute to delivering defence and security policy objectives.

Mr Baron

I am listening carefully to what my right hon. Friend is saying, but this is not just an issue of how best to encourage communication and expertise within the system; Chilcot was also saying that there was a lack of investment and proper sighting of events on the ground. That can be put right only through long-term investment to ensure that we are better sighted, so that we have a better idea of what is actually happening on the ground and the consequences of our actions. Does he agree that that is another important lesson to take from the Chilcot report?

Michael Fallon

Yes, I do. Defence intelligence and the gathering of information on the ground have improved and are more available to those taking the key decisions back in London.

Ian C. Lucas

This is an important area, but the right hon. Gentleman has focused almost exclusively on the Executive. One of the most important lessons of Chilcot is that the most effective opposition to the decision, which many now accept to be wrong, was from the Back Benches. When the Front Benches agree, groupthink—to use his own phrase—applies. The lesson is that we need to listen to independent-minded Back Benchers who present their views to Government honestly and passionately regardless of the consequences for their careers and who make difficult decisions that Ministers need to listen to much more closely in future.

Michael Fallon

I accept that. I was here at the time and voted in that particular Division. It is important that the Government listen to their Back Benchers. We were not in government then, but it is important that Members are free to speak their minds independently. Indeed, they have done so in the debate that we have been having over two days—on both sides of the argument. There are those who still maintain that the action taken in Iraq, although it did not turn out as well as we wanted, was justified and right.

Alex Salmond

Speaking as a Back Bencher, the right hon. Gentleman’s new colleague the Brexit Secretary, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), said that in situations of peace and war the House must rely on the Prime Minister of the day telling

“the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.—[Official Report, 13 July 2016; Vol. 613, c. 362.]

Does the Defence Secretary agree?

Michael Fallon

Members and Ministers should speak the truth in this particular House, but whether the Prime Minister of the day deliberately misled the House was investigated exhaustively by Sir John Chilcot in the report and I do not want to add any more to what he said.

I turn now to the issue raised by the right hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Tom Brake) about stabilisation. Since the Iraq war, the Government have increasingly focused first on prevention rather than intervention. We have been helping to build capability with partners and tackling the problems of fragile states at source, which has been possible only because we are now spending 0.7% of our GDP on international development. By helping fragile states to promote good governance, tackle corruption, and build capacity in defence and security forces, we can stop crises turning to the chaos that we have seen. That requires insight and understanding, often into complex situations. We have set up the cross-Government conflict stability and security fund, building on the conflict pool that had been in place for some time and supporting delivery of country or regional NSC strategies.

All that promotes a much stronger culture of cross-Government working on strategy, policy and delivery in fragile and conflict-affected countries. An example of our success in that so far was the recent deployment to Sierra Leone to combat Ebola, where diplomats, the military and officials from the Department for International Development worked alongside each other. The stabilisation unit that we set up has continued to develop, so we now have experts on hand to deploy in post-conflict situations anywhere in the world, at short notice. I have seen for myself how civilian advisers are now routinely part of military exercises, ensuring that military and civilian staff gain experience of working together before they are deployed, so that development and humanitarian needs get the consideration and attention they need, alongside the military planning.

We are now trying to make sure our armed forces are properly equipped and resourced. Not only are we meeting the NATO commitment to spend 2% of our GDP on defence, but our defence budget is growing for the first time in six years. That is on the back of the successful efforts we have been making since 2010 to return financial discipline to the Ministry of Defence and balance the defence budget. That is the foundation for the strong focus now on delivering an affordable 10-year equipment programme, allowing us to invest in the right equipment for our armed forces. That programme will total at least £178 billion on new military equipment over the next decade.

Martin Docherty-Hughes

I am glad that the Secretary of State has come to this point about members of the armed forces and their equipment. Will he expand on how this learning opportunity will support those who come back from conflict—crucially, the reservists, who take up much of that challenge and who fell off the radar after Iraq?

Michael Fallon

We have taken a lot of measures to involve the reserves more closely with the regulars now. After Iraq, we have been learning more rapidly the lessons from each deployment, particularly those from Afghanistan, to ensure that in future we do not have to wait for the kind of report that Sir John Chilcot has produced, and we are able to learn the lessons as we go and as units return, so that they can be applied to the next units taking up those roles.

Strategic defence reviews take the balance of investment decisions, including where our main equipment priorities lie. Routinely, decisions on how that money will then be invested rest with the service chiefs, giving them the freedom, and the responsibility, to make decisions on how best to apply their resources, and obliging them to be very clear about where they are carrying risk in respect of potential equipment failures or shortfall. Where changing circumstances or unexpected threats lead to shortfalls, we should be ready and able, quickly and effectively, to make good any shortcomings.

The Chilcot report recognises that the MOD and the Treasury, between them, worked hard to develop and refine the urgent operational requirements process. As the former Prime Minister told this House, that process did deliver results and new, improved equipment into theatre quickly in the Afghanistan campaign, responding immediately to the needs of our armed forces there. One of Chilcot’s most troubling observations is the lack back then of a clear focus of responsibility for identifying capability gaps during enduring operations. The new post of Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for Military Capability that has since been established fulfils that role.

As well as properly equipping and resourcing our people, the Government have a duty to ensure the welfare of our armed forces and their families, and then to ensure that they suffer no disadvantage when they return to civilian life. By putting the armed forces covenant into law and committing resources to it, we are making sure all those who put their lives on the line for this country get the help and support they need.

But however much we have done, and however much things have changed and improved since the Iraq campaign, the question for this House is to judge whether or not we have done enough. My answer is: no, of course we have not yet done enough. It is evident that the Chilcot report contains many harsh lessons still for us to learn. Given its length and forensic detail, it will take us some more time to analyse and to do it full justice. What is clear to me is that we now need to take a long, hard look at our decision-making processes and our culture to satisfy ourselves that misjudgments similar to those made at the time could not recur.

Pete Wishart

The Secretary of State is right that we must take account of all those things, but surely the public expect somebody to be held accountable for what was the biggest foreign policy disaster, probably, since the war. What is he going to do about that? The public demand to know that somebody will be held responsible for what happened.

Michael Fallon

The Chilcot report itself holds to account those who were involved and took the key decisions, and it makes its judgments on them. It is for them, not for me, to respond to those judgments and to account for the actions and the way in which they took their decisions at that time.

On the decision-making culture, the detail of the committees and the machinery of government which we discussed a few moments ago is not the stuff of headlines and speeches, but Chilcot shows us that some of these internal procedures of government are important. He sets out in pretty stark terms what happens when those structures—and the opportunities that they provide for the proper flow of information and challenge—are missing or are bypassed.

In defence, we have transformed in recent years our approach to risk. We have a clear focus of responsibility in each key area. We have designated risk duty holders and it is their responsibility to come to me if they believe that the levels of risk in their areas are becoming excessive. I expect military chiefs and commanders now to show the same degree of rigour and transparency with respect to operational planning.

Our organisation and culture must not prevent our people from challenging and questioning institutional assumptions, even if those assumptions are made by their superiors. That was a point eloquently made yesterday by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), and it was made again by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Danny Kinahan) today.

That view is fully shared by the current Chiefs of Staff—each of whom served in different roles during the Iraq campaign, including the outgoing and the incoming Chief of the Defence Staff—and it is shared by the permanent secretary. We are committed to leading defence through a period of rigorous reflection, analysis and improvement, and I am determined to make that improvement happen. I need, and the House would want me, to be absolutely sure that when our servicemen and women are deployed in future—and, inevitably, that is when, not if—nobody will be able to point to Sir John’s report and justifiably accuse us of repeating the same mistakes. I want to give the House an assurance that Sir John’s report will not be the last word.

In conclusion, our strategic defence and security review reminds us that we are living in an ever more dangerous world. Despite the report and the Iraq campaign, we must still be ready to act, as we have shown in our participation in the international coalition campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria today. We must remain as committed as ever to protecting our people and standing up to any kind of terrorism or aggression that seeks to destroy our very way of life. Sir John and his team, I repeat, have done us all a great service. Their work will enable us to learn the vital lessons from those operations in Iraq and ensure that we are not condemned to make the same mistakes in future.

Michael Fallon – 2016 Speech on NATO Warsaw Summit


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, in the House of Commons on 11 July 2016.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the NATO summit held in Warsaw last Friday and Saturday.

The 2015 strategic defence and security review reaffirmed NATO’s position at the heart of UK defence and security. The United Kingdom remains a leader within the alliance, with the second largest defence budget after the United States, and the largest in Europe. The range of challenges that the alliance faces, including Daesh, migration and Russian belligerence, meant that this summit was of major importance for Euro-Atlantic security. The overwhelming message from Warsaw was one of strength and unity. We believe that the summit has delivered an alliance that is now more capable and that projects stability beyond our borders, based on stronger partnerships, which collectively protect our citizens and defend Europe.

At the Wales summit in 2014, NATO agreed its readiness action plan to ensure that the alliance can respond swiftly and strongly to new challenges. The UK is at the forefront of these efforts: our Typhoons are currently conducting Baltic air-policing missions from Estonia; our ships are making a significant contribution to NATO’s naval forces: and we will lead NATO’s very high readiness joint taskforce next year, with 3,000 UK ground troops ready to deploy within days.

To demonstrate the allies’ solidarity, determination and ability to act in response to any aggression, Warsaw builds on the Wales’ commitments by delivering an enhanced forward presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. I am proud that the UK is one of four nations to lead a framework battalion alongside Canada, Germany and the United States. These battalions will be defensive in nature, but fully combat capable. The UK force will be located in Estonia with two UK companies, a headquarters element and equipment including armoured vehicles, Javelin anti-tank guided missiles and mortars. Denmark and France have said that they will provide troops to the UK battalion. In addition, we will also deploy a company group to Poland. That is our response to Russian aggression. NATO’s approach is based on balancing strong defence and dialogue. Dialogue remains right where it is in our interests to deliver hard messages to promote transparency and to build understanding to reduce risks of mis- calculation.

Credible alliance defence and deterrence depends on NATO’s ability to adapt to 21st-century threats through both nuclear and conventional forces. The summit recognised the important contribution that the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent makes to the overall security of the alliance. I can confirm that we expect the House to have the opportunity to vote to endorse the renewal of that deterrent next Monday.

Initiatives on cyber and hybrid warfare among others will give the alliance the capabilities that it needs to respond quickly and effectively. However, modern capabilities require appropriate funding and here good progress has been made against the defence investment pledge, a key commitment from Wales. Following this Government’s decision to spend 2% of GDP on defence and to increase the defence budget in each year of this Parliament, cuts to defence spending across the alliance have now halted, with 20 allies now increasing defence spending, and eight allies committing in their national plans to reaching the 2% target.

Delivering the best for our country also means maximising the talent in our armed forces. The Prime Minister has accepted the recommendation of the Chief of the General Staff to open up ground close-combat roles to women. NATO’s role in preventing conflict and tackling problems at source has become ever more important as threats to alliance security grow out of instability and fragile or weak states. NATO’s defence capacity-building initiative, which was first announced in Wales, is a powerful tool in projecting stability and we in the United Kingdom continue to provide significant support to Georgia, Iraq and Jordan.

Building on that, the allies agreed that NATO will conduct training and capacity building inside Iraq. In Afghanistan, local forces are taking responsibility for providing security across their country. Our long-term commitment, as part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission, is crucial. Next year, we will increase our current troop contribution of 450 by 10% to help build the capacity of the Afghan security institutions.

The summit also reiterated its support for our European partners, including Ukraine and Georgia. I was delighted that Montenegro attended the summit as an observer, as a clear sign that NATO’s door remains open.

However, the scale of Europe’s security challenges means that NATO must work with a range of partners to counter them. This summit sent a strong message of NATO’s willingness to build strong relationships with other international institutions. I welcome the joint declaration by the NATO Secretary-General and the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission on NATO-EU co-operation. We continue to support a closer relationship between NATO and the EU to avoid unnecessary duplication.

Our strong message to our allies and our partners was that the result of the referendum will have no impact on any of our NATO commitments and that NATO remains the cornerstone of our defence policy. The United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union, but we are not reducing our commitment to European security—we are not turning our back on Europe or on the rest of the world.

HMS Mersey will deploy to the Aegean from late July to continue our support for NATO’s efforts to counter illegal migration. We will also provide a second ship—RFA Mounts Bay—to the EU’s Operation Sophia in the central Mediterranean, and NATO has agreed in principle to provide surveillance and reconnaissance support to that operation too.

It is a United Kingdom priority for NATO to do more against Daesh. NATO’s airborne warning and control system will now support the counter-Daesh coalition. In addition to our own assistance to the Government of national accord, we will consider what NATO can do in Libya—for example, through capacity building of the Libyan coastguard.

It is our firm view that the Warsaw summit successfully demonstrated that the alliance has the capacity, the will and the intent to respond to the range of threats and challenges that it may face. The summit also showed that Britain is stepping up its leading role in the alliance by deploying more forces to NATO’s eastern borders and to NATO’s support to Afghanistan and in countering illegal migration. With that strong UK leadership, Warsaw will be remembered for the concrete steps that were taken to deliver a strong and unified alliance that remains the cornerstone of European defence and security. I commend this statement to the House.

Michael Fallon – 2016 Speech to RUSI Airpower Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, in London on 7 July 2016.

I’d like to begin by paying tribute to CAS since this is his last conference in post.

I know he’d rather I kept quiet but I want to put on record my appreciation for his immense leadership over the past three years.

He led the RAF into Shader only 2 years ago – he led calmly, without fuss.

I want to thank him for his leadership to the Force and service to the State.

He leaves a proud legacy.

A RAF stronger, more ready to face the challenges to come.


Last week we commemorated the Somme.

Besides the contribution of our troops in the trenches, that long drawn out conflict witnessed a revolution in air power, from intelligence gathering to control of the air.

Back then, the perils of aviation were almost unimaginable.

Your forebears fought in canvas and wood, carried no parachutes, and had minimal training.

By contrast, you enjoy the sort of precision, speed and reach they could only dream of.

Yet you too continue to run risks to protect our freedom.


And nowhere is this truer than in our fight against Daesh.

Two years on from Parliament’s vote to authorise airstrikes in Iraq, seven months since the extension of that authorisation to Syria, we now have over 600 air and ground crews in RAF Akrotiri.

It’s been humbling to meet those men and women on the frontline and to see how effectively they’re getting the job done.


Our aircrew have flown more than 2800 missions in Iraq and Syria.

They’ve conducted 865 airstrikes in Iraq and, since December, 50 in Syria – more than any other nation except the United States.

Since December’s vote, the RAF has more than doubled its effort against Daesh.

Last month saw the greatest number of bombs dropped and missiles fired since January.

Meanwhile, RAF E-3D Sentry aircraft are co-ordinating Coalition aircraft over the whole operational area.

Our Voyager tankers are extending our reach and endurance.

Our intelligence gathering aircraft – such as Airseeker – are providing a significant amount of the Coalition’s ISR.

Together they’re ensuring our Tornados, Typhoons and Reapers can clear a path for brave Iraqi troops.

And our planes are making a decisive difference in support of local ground forces.

Daesh is on the back foot. It is a failing organisation.

In Iraq it has lost around 40% of the territory it once held.

Last week saw a significant milestone– the liberation of Fallujah.

Once more the RAF’s efforts highlight the precision nature of our operation.

Our fast jets struck more than 100 targets as Iraqi ground forces fought their way into the city.

It was our jets that destroyed bunkers housing anti-tank guns, weapons factories, ammunition dumps, and artillery.

They also provided crucial intelligence to identify potential threats even in the demanding circumstances of street-fighting in an urban environment.

Our efforts, alongside our Coalition partners, helped liberate Fallujah while limiting the long-term damage to the city and saving many brave Iraqi lives.

The symbolism of this latest success is inescapable since Fallujah was the first city seized by Daesh in Iraq in January 2014.

The focus is now on stabilisation so people feel safe to return home.

Meanwhile, in Syria the RAF is making inroads into Daesh’s command, control and targeting their oil infrastructure, a major source of revenue.

The RAF has not operated at this sustained operational tempo in a single theatre of conflict for a quarter of a century.

And this tempo and commitment – our precision targeting, our ISR, and our overall support for the coalition – shows no sign of abating.


Operation Shader might be our biggest operational focus but it’s only part of the RAF’s global activity.

Last year our pilots and aircrew deployed to more than 60 countries.

They’re in Eastern Europe for the third year running a protecting our NATO allies against Russian aggression.

Since April 29 they’ve been scrambled on 15 occasions to intercept 32 aircraft.

Besides targeting Daesh, our people are flying in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.

It remains a difficult and dangerous job.

And I’d like to pay tribute in to the personnel, especially the 2 RAF Puma crewmembers, who tragically lost their lives in Afghanistan in October last year.

Besides the RAF’s work overseas you continue to be a constant presence in UK as well as the Falklands skies providing Quick Reaction Alert to protect our security.

Whether at home or abroad, you continue to pull out all the stops.

The nation is proud of your service.

Thank you.


In the coming year I expect our RAF to continue, as you might say ‘kicking the tyres and lighting the fires’.

The result of the referendum will not change our global outlook.

Nor the shared threats we face.

To counter those international challenges…we must work even harder with our allies and partners, becoming, in the words of our SDSR, international-by-design.

And while we’ve opted out of one particular union, we take our global responsibilities seriously, as members of NATO, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Northern Group of European nations, the Five Power Defence Arrangements in the Far East and permanent members of the UN Security Council.

But the RAF needs no reminding of its global obligations.

You’ve always been an instinctively international entity.


But your challenge is to stay ahead of the curve.

Our competitors are striving to close the capability gap.

Russia is exploiting forward-swept wing technology, North Korea “miniaturising” nuclear weapons, others are making the most of cyber and fifth generation technology.

In response, our SDSR gives us a RAF that packs a more powerful punch, increasing its capital investment programme to more than £6Bn, so it can spend on our future air fleet.

For a sign of what’s to come look no further than our fifth generation F-35, which crossed the Atlantic last week, in time for RIAT and Farnborough.

The F-35 both land and sea-based will be the fulcrum of a new air fleet, including, 2 additional Typhoon squadrons, 9 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, 14 Voyager air-to-air refuelling aircraft by end of year, upgraded helicopter fleets, more than double the number of drones and investments in innovations like the solar-powered Zephyr.

We’re not just investing in the platforms but the weapons themselves.

Today I can announce a contract worth approximately £28 million to maintain our state-of-the-art Storm Shadow missile for the next five years.

This long-range high performance cruise missile is already in service with our Tornados and is being integrated with our Typhoons.

Last week it was deployed for the first time in western Iraq…destroying Daesh ammunition dumps in a large concrete bunker.

Collectively, these assets make our future air fleet among the most adaptable and agile in the world.

Yet, if we’re to seize the opportunities opened up by this new capability, the RAF must adapt in three ways.


First, by responding to the growing information challenge.

What distinguishes the air technology we’re developing today is an increasing ability to absorb information.

From the images captured by the Tornado’s Raptor pods, to our AWACS, fusing and disseminating data.

From the continuous surveillance of Reaper, to our F-35.

Let’s consider F-35 for a moment.

The most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor package of any fighter aircraft in history, a core processor that can perform more than 400 billion operations per second and 360-degree access to “real-time” battlefield information.

It immeasurably improves our situational awareness.

But to get to grips with all the data it provides our people must learn to sift it, understand it, and exploit it, to deliver a faster truth to the public, and a knock-out blow to our adversaries.


This brings me to point two.

Our people must be able to keep up with the sophistication of our systems.

That means training our crews to make judgements about the intelligence in front of them.

It means making our organisation as a whole, more streamlined and more responsive, so that data distilled on the battlefield is interpreted by the analysts back home, all in real time.

That’s why we’ve brought components of Defence Intelligence community together at Joint Forces Intelligence Group Headquarters alongside the imagery intelligence capability of the Defence Geospatial Intelligence Fusion Centre.

But we don’t just need to improve our information handling skills.

As we develop our disruptive capability, whether in artificial intelligence, miniaturisation, or big data, the RAF will require an even more diverse palette of skills.

Yet today the nation is facing a skills deficit.

To bridge that gap we’re backing apprenticeships

The RAF currently has 2700 apprentices on its books – over half in aircraft engineering.

We’re also collaborating with Primes to create engineering pathways between public and private sector.

We’ve appointed a Defence Engineering Champion, Air -Marshal Julian Young to develop talent across the Single Services and the Civil Service.

And we’re opening up a new Air & Defence Career College in Lincoln, so budding engineers or computer scientists can have unrivalled access to the RAF and Air Defence industry.


My third point is we have to help the public as well as our people adjust to this new phase in air power.

With more coverage on our use of UAVs like Reaper and our plans for Protector, with systems such as Zephyr and Taranis in development, there is concern about the level of automation.

So we must explain clearly the benefits of the capability we’re investing in and the safeguards in place.

We don’t wish to remove humans from the process but using unmanned systems minimises the danger to operators and aircrew in high threat environments.

Ultimately, we want to put more power into the hands of our people by giving them better information to make more informed decisions.

Human beings might lack the computational power of a machine, but they are better than machines at understanding human motivation in all its chaotic and complex unpredictability.

Our people will always be our greatest disruptive capability.

And that’s why we have a clear UK policy on automation of weapons systems: the operation of weapons systems will always be under human control.

We are committed to using remotely piloted systems as an absolute guarantee of oversight and authority for weapons release.

And our Science and Technology Programme does not fund research into fully autonomous weapon systems.

Although humans will remain in control of our future weapons systems, new technology is increasing the physical distance between man and machine.

Take our pilots controlling their RPAS remotely thousands of miles away.

Yet they remain subject to the moral and psychological burden of combat as well as Rules of Engagement and the Laws of Armed Conflict.

That means we have to ensure training, tactics, and doctrine meet the needs of the 21st century pilot.


So we’re preparing our people and the public to face the new dawn of airpower.

For the next generation, this will be a new age of opportunity.

Yet to make the most of it, we must make sure future talent keeps coming through the door.

In a sense. it’s the same appeal as Trenchard once made: “We want the mathematic genius – there is work for him. We want the scientific brain – there is more than enough work for him. We want the man of brains and we want the man of common sense. We want the man of initiative and the man of action”.

But that was in 1925 in the infancy of air power.

You can now look back on a century of extraordinary achievement and innovation.

From the tactical ingenuity on the Somme, to the feats of daring in the Battle of Britain.

From the breakthrough of the jet engine, to the development of an air-breathing rocket propulsion system that can enter earth’s orbit.

From the fifth-generation F-35, to the solar power zephyr that can loiter in the upper atmosphere.

Our people have helped to change this country. They’ve helped keep the world safe too.

So as we tell this story, as we appeal, let’s take to heart the theme of this conference and inspire the next generation.

They will be the ones to write the next chapter in the glorious history of our nation.

A history in which we’ll fly further and higher and longer than ever before, as they protect our country and keep our people safe.

Michael Fallon – 2016 Speech at Defence Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference held in London on 29 June 2016.

Just last week we marked Armed Forces Day

…as literally thousands of people came together

…from Cleethorpes… where I attended with the Prime Minister

…to Caerphilly

…and places in between

…to applaud…as members of the public… the immense contribution of our Army.

In a few days’ time

…local communities up and down the land

…will gather once more

…this time not in celebration

…but in commemoration

…as we mark 100 years on

…from that immense battle

…fought in the trenches of the Somme.

Today’s troops

…are worlds apart from their WW1 counterparts

…in terms of firepower, technology and protection

…yet they do share the same commitment to service

…the same passionate belief in the values of our nation

…the values of justice and tolerance and freedom

…that are worth fighting for now as they were worth fighting for then.

Values under attack
And they do have to be fought for now.

100 years after the Somme, those values remain under attack.

From Islamist extremists… who most recently wrought havoc in a concert hall in Paris and in a nightclub in Orlando.

From aggressor states…like Russia… who continue to menace the Ukraine.

From rogue nations like North Korea…who keep rattling their nuclear sabre.

But just as our forefathers did 100 years ago, today we face those dangers head on.

Last year we had almost 80,000 British soldiers deployed on more than 380 commitments in 69 different countries around the world.

This year our troops have maintained that relentless pace.

Today they are training tens of thousands of Iraqis and Kurds to counter Daesh.

They are assisting Nigerian forces to take on Boko Haram.

And they are providing essential support to our Ukrainian allies as they stand firm in defence of their nation’s territorial integrity.

Our personnel…our service people… around the world are making a difference.

And they deserve our heartfelt thanks.

It is through their service that they remind us

…that if we’re to continue protecting our own people

…projecting our influence

…promoting our national prosperity

…then we have to have a strong Army out in front leading the way.

Investing in a strong army

Now not so very long ago, Malcolm, there were some who questioned this Government’s commitment to the Army.

In fact, I now recall standing at this very lectern a year ago

…fielding a barrage of questions

…polite but firm

…about forces being hollowed out

…budgets being constrained

…and continual retrenchment.

Yet, barely a week after that conference…of course because of that Conference!…the Chancellor announced that we would not only meet our 2 per cent NATO target

…but that our budget would grow for the first time this April in real terms and would go on growing for each of the next six years.

And, as you have said, a few months after that the Strategic Defence and Security Review decided

…to put us back on the map

…by investing in stronger defence

…in the shape of Joint Force 2025

…an Air Group

…a Maritime Taskforce

…and a Land Force made up of 112,000 Regulars and Reserve

…able to deploy more rapidly an expeditionary force of around 50,000

…20,000 more on the equivalent review four or five years before

And committed over the next five years to spend some 12bn on the Army’s equipment programme alone

Some 28bn over the next 10 years up till 2025.

That additional force will give us a war-fighting division

…optimised for high intensity combat operations

…including two new strike Brigades

…able to deploy over long distances.

It will give reconfigured infantry battalions

…who will increasingly contribute to countering terrorism and building stability overseas.

And it will give us firepower to match this additional manpower.

…digitally-enhanced Ajax armoured vehicles

…Mechanised Infantry Vehicles

…Warrior Fighting vehicles

…Challenger tanks

…upgraded Apaches and Chinooks

…and cutting edge Remotely Piloted Air Systems.

And I can announce today that we’ve signed a £80m support contract with Thales

…that will keep our Watchkeepers flying high for years to come

…helping in the process to sustain 80 jobs and more in the supply chain. So we know now from the SDSR…what our future force… will look like.

But the questions for today go much deeper. . And they return us, as you said Malcolm, to the theme of this conference, “adaptability”.

How should the Army adapt to a much more complex age?

How can we make sure, as you’ve already been discussing in earlier sessions, that the Army does have the ability to react to such a wide range of threats

…whether simultaneously from the East or South

…whether from conventional or from cyber warfare.

In answering that question, I would like to set out my vision of Army 2025

In my view, it should be a future force with three essential characteristics:

First, it should be an integrated Army.

I don’t mean an Army structure that’s better integrated.

I don’t mean an Army that’s better integrated with the Royal Navy and Royal Airforce – they’re already doing it.

I mean an Army that is integrated with the “whole of Government”.

Increasingly, the threats we face transcend departmental boundaries.

Tomorrow’s Army is going to be working more closely than ever before with Intelligence Agencies, with the Police and Home Office to deter and respond to threats.

It will joining up with key government departments to support national resilience contingency planning.

It will be building stability overseas by improving our partners’ abilities to deal with terrorism, radicalisation and extremism.

Now the Army, of course, always been more than just a blunt instrument.

It’s always been an organisation with the skills, the intelligence and on-the-ground knowledge of how to make as well as how to break.

And having fully absorbed CGS’s doctrine note on integrated action…that he released last year…I want to see Army 2025 fully utilise its in-depth expertise

…not just in theatre but at the heart of our government

…helping to shape and inform the decisions that are taken in government

Secondly, I want to see Army 2025 dominate

…not simply enter…the information space

…in the way the Army currently masters the physical terrain.

We can already see our adversaries waging war differently

…using cyber to take down infrastructure

…using social media to spread misinformation

…using chat groups and rooms to radicalise followers.

The Army of the future

…will be plugged into the digital age.

It will be able… in the words of those tech experts over at Silicon Valley

… “to translate the virtual bits into physical atoms”

…that emerge from multiple receptors

…whether digital tanks…carriers…or the F35.

And it will have the capability to deploy that real-time information

…to disrupt and dismantle our adversaries’ capabilities

…to help inform political decision making

…and to deliver…above all…a faster truth to our public.

So just as the pioneers of air support and tanks were to be found in the later stages of the battle of the Somme

…so the pioneers of information warfare will now be found amongst our men and women of 77 Brigade and 1st Reconnaissance Brigade.

They’re already learning ways to improve information…influence capabilities

…counter hybrid warfare techniques

…and improve battlefield intelligence.

And along the way they are pioneering techniques that will undoubtedly be taken up throughout the rest of the Army.

They’re discovering how to use more flexible terms-of-employment so we can do more to tap into the deeper wells of talent within our country.

They’re breaking down barriers in the way we organise ourselves so that our intelligence analysts receive the information from unmanned aerial systems more swiftly.

And they’re finding out how to give our deployed forces even greater access to the additional expertise and services that UK assets can provide worldwide.

I believe that impact will in time be revolutionary.

Third, Army 2025, as Malcolm reminded us, will be international-by-design.

Thanks to the Army 2020 refine programme we will be a force to be reckoned with…with a full array of capabilities to operate alone if required.

But we will also be in a much better position to work together with our global partners.

And make no mistake…regardless of the result of the referendum… we will remain a major international power with global responsibilities.

Leaving one particular union means we will have to work even harder with our commitment to others and to our key financial operations.

We will continue to be leading members

…of NATO …of the UN Security Council …of the Commonwealth …of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe …of the Northern Group of European nations …of the Five Power Defence Arrangements in the Far East …of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance

And we will continue to be a country with strong and valued Defence relationships

…with the United States

…and with countries around the world.

The result of the referendum does not change our global outlook.

We will continue to fight terror with our partners

…to support counter migration efforts

…whether organised by NATO or the European Union…or the United Nations.

We will continue to tackle counter-arms smuggling.

We will continue to deepen and broaden those relationships we set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review last year.

That’s why Army 2025 is being configured to l operate predominantly in combined formations

…as part of NATO’s VJTEF…which we lead next year

…as part of our Joint Expeditionary Force of northern European nations.

That combined formation in each case exemplifies the sort of relationship that international-design will forge and sustain.

So Army 2025 will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our American allies …building on the strength of our existing partnership.

…building on the regular joint exercises between our nations

…and the recent agreement to integrate more effectively a UK division into a US corps.

…and the fact we’re one of the few Armies in the world able to match the tempo of the US Higher Headquarters.

And that’s why Army 2025 will also be there alongside our French colleagues.

And this year we’re not just looking back

…to the Anglo-French efforts on the Somme

…but looking forward…with the successful testing of our Combined Joint Expeditionary Force.

And beyond that, I want Army 2025 to be the partner of choice for smaller nations.

…giving us greater options for a sharper and speedier response against our adversaries.

That’s a network that is being strengthened and expanded all the time

…through our Specialised Infantry Battalions

…through our culturally-aware regional specialists

…through our world renowned military courses

…and the events we hold …such as the conference we’re in with you today

Above all…through the routine engagements of our troops throughout the year… throughout the world.

This year there have already been more than 100 such tasks ranging from Belize to Burkino Faso…from Ethiopia to Egypt…from Sierra Leone to Singapore.

Just this week British troops deployed again on exercise in the Ukraine .

So that’s my vision for Army 2025.

And I need only add that this is a force whose diversity of allies

…needs to be matched by the diversity of its own personnel.

By 2020, as you know, we want 10 per cent of new soldiers to come from an ethnic minority background.

We want more than 15 per cent to be women.

And we want them…in both cases…not simply to make up numbers

…not simply to meet a Government target

…but to bring their skills and their talents to every part of the Army

…and to every corner of the world in which our people serve.

These are the people with the talent that takes them to the very top.

And this will be a force

…that represents the nation

…that enjoys…as it did last week…the nation’s wholehearted support

…and a force that is admired worldwide for the values that it embodies.

So let me conclude by saying…that is the Army 2025 that I want to see in the coming years.

A stronger, forward leaning force, leading a more secure, more prosperous and more confident country into the future.

And though we don’t know today…when and where the British Army will be deployed next… I do know that where it is deployed it will be used successfully.

…not just because of the building blocks are already in place

…not even just because we are now putting our money where our mouth is

…but above all because of the iron will and determination

…that once drove those heroes on the Somme

…to preserve the freedoms we cherish against the forces of aggression and intolerance and injustice

Because that determination and iron will


…after all these years

…the driving force of our militarily today.

Thank you.

Michael Fallon – 2016 Speech on the UK’s Independent Nuclear Deterrent


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, at the Policy Exchange in London on 23 March 2016.

Thank you John.

It’s always a pleasure to speak at Policy Exchange.

Policy Exchange has led the public policy debate over the past 14 years on issues as far apart as housing and the impact of lawfare on our Armed Forces.

So I’m delighted to launch the new National Security Unit here today.

I’m pleased to see Policy Exchange going global. I know – under John Bew’s direction – you’ll bring your trademark clarity to the broader issues of national security.

At the moment all our thoughts today must of course be with our friends in Brussels.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review identified terrorism as one of the greatest challenges we face and it set out plans to tackle it.

Today, however, I want to focus on another important national security issue: the case for our independent nuclear deterrent.


Defence is the first duty of any Government.

As our SDSR said…and I quote…: “Defence and protection start with deterrence, which has long been, and remains, at the heart of the UK’s national security policy”.

Deterrence means convincing any potential aggressor that the benefits of an attack are far outweighed by its consequences.

Deterrence draws upon the full spectrum of our capabilities… diplomacy, economic policy, law enforcement, offensive cyber, covert means…and, of course, our Armed Forces.

Which is why the most fundamental role of the Armed Forces is not to fight wars, but – through their very existence – to deter, and thus to prevent war.

For no part of our Armed Forces is that more true than our nuclear capability. If nuclear weapons are fired, they have failed. But they are used every day: to deter.

This Government was elected on a manifesto that included a commitment to build four new ballistic missile submarines … replacing the Vanguard submarines that come out of service from the early 2030s.

And we’ve committed to a debate and vote this year so that Parliament can endorse that decision. So now is the right time to set out why we should retain our nuclear deterrent.

There are three reasons.

Because we are realistic about the world we live in.

Because we take our responsibilities to the British people and to our Allies seriously.

And because that means that nuclear weapons are relevant now and are going to be relevant for the foreseeable future.

Let me take each in turn.


First, it’s about realism.

Some characterise this debate as one of extremes. Between those who want to disarm and those who never will disarm.

Let me reject that artificiality. We all agree on the destructive power of nuclear weapons, and that we must do everything to ensure they will never be used.

We also have a shared ambition to see a world where nuclear weapons states feel able to relinquish them.

Where we really differ is how best to achieve this.

On the one hand are those idealists who believe that unilateral disarmament will make us safer…

…on the other are those of us who recognise that the real world threats to the United Kingdom are growing not diminishing.

So we must be realistic about the world in which we live.

The Labour Government’s 2006 White Paper on the future of the deterrent identified risks to the UK from major nuclear armed states from emerging nuclear states, and state sponsored terrorism.

Those risks have not gone away.

Indeed, nine years on, our own SDSR judged that the United Kingdom is facing challenges that are growing in scale, diversity, complexity and in concurrency.

Nor has the nuclear threat gone away. The SDSR recognised, and I quote, “continuing risk of further proliferation of nuclear weapons” and concluding that we could not “relax our guard… or rule out further shifts which would put us under grave threat”.

And Russian behaviour is a case in point here.

Russia has become more aggressive, more authoritarian and more nationalist. Its illegal annexation of Crimea and support of Ukrainian separatists through the use of deniable, hybrid tactics and media manipulation have shown its willingness to undermine the rules based international system in order to promote and secure its own perceived interests.

Russia is upgrading its nuclear forces; and Russia is threatening to base nuclear forces in Kaliningrad and in the Crimea.

The last two years have seen a worrying increase in both official Russian rhetoric about the use of nuclear weapons and the frequency of snap nuclear exercises.

And we should take heed of those developments.

North Korea is another worrying case study. North Korea is the only nation to have tested nuclear weapons in the 21st century. It now claims to have withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It’s developing long-range missiles, and continues to flaunt its new found nuclear capabilities.

Just as we must be realistic about the growing nuclear threats, we also have to acknowledge that our prospects of single-handedly convincing the world to abandon its nuclear arms… are limited.

Now we are committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, in line with our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

And we have led the way on disarmament.

We’ve cut our nuclear stockpiles by over half since the height of the Cold War

Last year I reduced the number of deployed warheads on each submarine from 48 to 40 last year

And we have pledged to reduce further our stockpile of nuclear weapons to no more than 180 warheads by the mid-2020s.

Other nations have not followed suit.

There remain about 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world… we have less than one per cent of them.

It is frankly naïve – even vainglorious – to imagine that the grand gesture of UK unilateral disarmament could change the calculations of nuclear states, or those seeking to acquire weapons.

Far more likely they would see it as weakness.

So the only way to create the global security conditions necessary for achieving nuclear disarmament is by working multilaterally…

by taking tangible steps towards a safer and more stable world

And by giving states with nuclear weapons the confidence they require to relinquish them.

Our recent efforts, working alongside other leading powers, secured a deal with Iran and showed what can be achieved.

But we should also be realistic about how long this will take.

As the great nuclear theorist and former MOD Permanent Secretary, Sir Michael Quinlan, once wrote:

‘no safer system than deterrence is yet in view, and impatience would be a catastrophic guide in the search. To tear down” he said… “the present structure, imperfect but effective, before a better one is firmly within our grasp would be an immensely dangerous and irresponsible act.’


That brings me to my second point. We have a political and moral responsibility to our people and our Allies.

No-one would claim the nuclear deterrent solves all of our national security requirements.

Terrorist threats are all too real – as we saw so tragically yesterday. But nuclear weapons were never intended to combat terrorism.

They are intended to deter the most extreme dangers our nation might face.

What’s more, our independent deterrent isn’t just key to our security; it contributes to our NATO allies’ security as well.

NATO is the cornerstone of our defence. It is first and foremost a defensive alliance. And it is also a nuclear alliance.

By maintaining our independent nuclear deterrent, alongside the US and France, we provide NATO with three separate centres of decision-making.

That complicates the calculations of potential adversaries, and it prevents them threatening the UK, or our allies, with impunity.

Now some will ask why we possess nuclear weapons when other Allies such as Germany do without them.

But we can’t rewrite history. We were one of the original nuclear powers. Others were not.

And many of those Allies signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the late 1960s in the knowledge they were covered by NATO’s nuclear umbrella, including the United Kingdom deterrent.

It would not be the action of a strong and valued ally to withdraw that protection.

And how would the United States or France respond if we suddenly announced that we were abandoning our nuclear capabilities…

…yet will still expect them to pick up the tab and to put their cities at risk to protect us in a nuclear crisis?

Without our nuclear contribution to NATO, could we guarantee that a potential adversary might not miscalculate the degree of United States commitment to the defence of Europe?

As one of the leading member of NATO we shouldn’t now think of outsourcing our commitments.

That would not make us safer and it would have no moral merit.

It would weaken us now and in the future.

It would undermine NATO.

And it would embolden our adversaries.


That brings me to my third point: the relevance.

Our independent nuclear deterrent is relevant not only for today but also for the foreseeable future.

The UK case does not rest on our assessment of threats that face us now….

…but on our assessment of what the world could be like in the 2030s, 2040s, 2050s and beyond…

And the truth is we don’t know.

No-one accurately predicted the end of the Cold War…or the coming of the Arab Spring, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, or the rise of Daesh.

Those who argue in favour of scrapping our nuclear deterrent unilaterally must be certain – absolutely certain – no extreme threats will emerge in the next 30 or 40 years to threaten our security and way of life.

And they can’t be so certain.

That is why successive Governments for over sixty years have concluded that this country should retain its nuclear weapons.

Now the UK government last formally presented the case for the future of the UK’s Nuclear Deterrent to Parliament in 2006.

Launching that White Paper Tony Blair, said “an independent nuclear deterrent is an essential part of our insurance against the uncertainties and risks of the future.”

That was the right judgment then.

It’s the right judgment now.

Our nuclear deterrent has helped keep the peace between the major powers for decades.

Abandoning it, would undermine our security and that of our allies. It would not make us safer.

And once we gave up those weapons, there would be no going back to them.


That is the case for retaining a nuclear deterrent.

And I put it to you that it is hard to argue against the principle.

But, before concluding, let me finally address the main practical objections that people have raised.

First, the claim that there are cheaper and more effective ways of providing a similar effect to the Trident system.

There aren’t.

Successive studies have looked at this in detail…

… under Labour Ministers in 2006…

…and more recently under the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition in 2013.

They reached the same conclusion.

A minimum, credible, assured and independent deterrent requires nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles.

Other options were considered.

The Trident Alternatives Review in 2013 assessed what ships, aircraft, submarines and silos could deliver nuclear weapons; and which missiles, bombs or nuclear warheads were most appropriate.

It found that submarines were less vulnerable to attack than silos or aircraft.

They can maintain a continuous posture in a way that aircraft and land-based alternatives cannot.

It made clear that alternative delivery systems, such as cruise missiles, wouldn’t have the same range as the Trident missile … reducing the reach and capability of our deterrent.

Only the current submarine-based, Trident missile system offered the resilience but also the cost-effectiveness that successive UK Governments sought. The second objection is that submarines will somehow become obsolete, through technological developments such as unmanned underwater vehicles or cyber threats.

The ocean is a vast, complex and challenging environment in which to conduct large scale anti-submarine warfare.

Our confidence that submarines will not be rendered obsolete by technology is partly based on classified analysis, but also on some obvious facts.

Operating quietly for long periods in the ocean is highly demanding. It requires endurance, a powerful energy source, resilience from high pressure and corrosion, and stealth.

The ability to track submarines and then communicate their position brings with it many significant challenges.

Now we dedicate considerable resource to assessing these emerging capabilities. And we judge that there is no inherent reason, for the foreseeable future, to believe that unmanned submarines will be substantially more difficult to counter, than manned submarines.

As for cyber-attack, while deployed, submarines operate in isolation. It’s hard to think of a system less susceptible to cyber-attack.

And it’s also worth asking, if nuclear submarines were redundant, or going to be redundant, why would the United States, China, Russia and France all be spending tens of billions of dollars on their own submarine based ballistic missile systems?

As practical as these objections appear, they are in fact simply the latest in a litany of arguments employed to justify an anti-nuclear position.


The third practical objection is cost.

Now we must remember that security underpins all the Government’s priorities.

With the fifth biggest defence budget in the world…backed up by our commitment to invest 2 per cent of GDP in defence… we can afford conventional and nuclear capabilities.

Our estimate is that four new submarines will cost £31 billion to build. We’ve also set a contingency of £10 billion on top of that.

But the £31 billion acquisition cost will be spread over 35 years, which works out as an insurance premium of 0.2% per year of total Government spending.

Twenty pence in every £100 pounds the Government spends…for a system that will provide a capability through to the 2050s and beyond.

I believe that that is a price worth paying.


So let me say in conclusion…before nuclear weapons, major powers embarked on two of the most destructive wars imaginable.

Many millions died, millions more suffered.

Yet, for all the conventional conflicts since, and there have been many of them, there hasn’t been major conflict between nuclear armed states. The devastating possibilities of nuclear war have helped maintain strategic stability.

And our independent UK nuclear deterrent has played its part.

Those who still oppose it must prove to us how relinquishing it would make us safer.

Now we should not accept nuclear deterrence as the last word in ensuring freedom from major war. Our commitment under our Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations is clear.

But to abandon our deterrent now would be an act of supreme irresponsibility.

In 2007 Parliament voted to maintain the minimum strategic nuclear deterrent beyond the life of the existing system.

Last year Parliament voted twice to retain our deterrent.

This year Parliament will have the opportunity to vote on the principle of Continuous At Sea Deterrence and our plans for Successor.

This is not a judgment about short term threats.

It is about the threats we may face over generations to come.

We should not gamble with our national security.

The United Kingdom’s independent nuclear deterrent remains right for our nation – for as long as the global security situation demands.

Thank you.

Michael Fallon – 2016 Speech in the Falkland Islands


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, on board HMS Clyde at Stanley in the Falkland Islands on 16 February 2016.

I’m delighted to be here.

One of the most important parts of my job is visiting our troops and civilian personnel around the world, and meeting the local people where they are based.

I have been trying to come here for some time and I’m pleased to have made it. It is over a decade since a Defence Secretary has visited the Islands so it is long overdue.

It is a pleasure to have had the opportunity to spend time with you and to hear about life and the issues on the Islands, and to remember those who lost their lives in the conflict.

This morning I laid a wreath at Liberation Monument and tomorrow I will be visiting Blue Beach Cemetery, and the Argentinian cemetery. It is very moving to be here to reflect on those events.

I want to start with a simple message, we will always defend your right to determine your future. That matter was settled over 30 years ago, and reaffirmed in the 2013 referendum.

Last year I reaffirmed that commitment with a £180 million investment over the next decade to modernise the military infrastructure. And I am pleased to announce that I expect to announce a contract for the work to upgrade Mare Harbour next month, and to award a contract for the new Power Station in May with work starting this year.

And this visit is an opportunity to hear about the success story of these Islands.

Over the last 3 decades your efforts have developed a thriving, self sufficient, self governing democracy that has enjoyed remarkable growth and economic development.

And I’ve already experienced the strong community and identity that exists here.

Today I have been hearing about the opportunities for future economic development. There are plenty of prospects, whether from development of onshore activities, diversification of agriculture, science and technology research, development of exports markets, or increasing the already successful tourism sector.

The British government wants to help you realise those economic opportunities.

Our position on sovereignty will not change but as the Prime Minister has said, we want a more positive and productive relationship with the new Argentinian government.

We are determined that doing that should translate into new economic opportunities and prosperity.

This means an end to the measures that are damaging your economy, so that you are free to trade, to travel and to welcome all into the wonderful Islands.

What it will not involve is any question of the position of the Falkland Islands changing.

If we can achieve it, then a more stable South Atlantic is in all our interests.

With the support of the UK, I am confident that the Falklands Islands can look forward to an even brighter future.