Michael Fallon – 2015 Speech on Stronger Defence


Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, at the Atlantic Council in Washington on 11 December 2015.

I’m delighted to be back in the United States, a place where I always feel at home.

That familiarity reminds me of something President Reagan once said:

“Great Britain and the United States are kindred nations of like minded people and must face their tests together.

“We are bound by common language and linked in history. We share laws and literature, blood, and moral fiber. The responsibility for freedom is ours to share.”

Values under threat

Our freedom was threatened by Nazi evil, and our nations united to defeat it, seventy years ago.

Today it’s threatened by a new evil, Islamist fascism.

This year we’ve seen its followers slaying innocent American people in a San Bernadino day care centre, French people socialising in Paris, and British tourists on a Tunisian beach.

To defeat this evil we require unity of purpose and a total cross government response.

That doesn’t just mean shutting down their online presence, stopping their financial support, preventing fighters crossing borders, and building up capacity of fragile states.

It means calling out their extremist narrative.

Those susceptible to radicalisation must understand that the way of ISIL/Daesh is a metaphorical and literal dead end.

The only item on its agenda is the destruction of our nations and establishment of its own barbaric realm.

Yet no one becomes a terrorist from a standing start.

There’s a process of radicalisation.

So we need to expose that Islamist ideology for the perversion it is.

And we can’t deny this process has anything to do with Islam.

These extremists are self-identifying as Muslims.

As President Obama said in his Oval office address:

“This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse”.

But we mustn’t hand a propaganda coup to ISIL/Daesh.

Their mouthpieces and apologists paint their war as a clash between Islam and the west…in order to sow division.

Yet the facts are:

…ISIL/Daesh kills more Muslims than any other group

…and our anti-ISIL/Daesh coalition is made of many Muslim countries

…who recognise

…that what’s at stake

…is a conflict between those who love life

…and those who love death and chaos.

Our challenge is to support reforming voices within the Muslim community, preventing the fusing of religion and politics and stopping the slide into extremism.

At the same time, taking pride in what our 2 nations offer all our people whatever their colour, class or creed: not discrimination or sectarianism, but freedom of religion, tolerance and opportunity for all.

Again quoting President Reagan…speaking here at the Atlantic Council: “Our consensus is built not only on what we’re against but on what we’re for. And we are against totalitarianism. We’re for freedom and democracy, for them without hesitation or apology.”

We won’t discredit their poisonous ideology, if we are not true to those values.

Use of force

The use of force must be part of this total government response.

There can be no compromise, no deal with Islamo-fascists.

Those who murder innocents at a Christmas party with their co-workers, who behead aid workers and push gay people off buildings must be stopped.

That was the message from UN Security Resolution 2249 which called on states to take “all necessary measures” to expunge the extremists.

The US and the UK have always stood side-by-side against terror.

Against Hitler; against Al-Qaeda; and as part of the anti-ISIL/Daesh coalition.

From the very start the UK’s been flying missions in Iraq.

We’re providing some 60 per cent of the Coalition’s tactical reconnaissance.

And last month the UK Parliament voted decisively to answer our allies’ call and lift the shadow of the 2013 Syria vote.

We are stepping up

…alongside our US, French and Coalition allies

…bringing the full force of the RAF to bear

…destroying their infrastructure

…cutting off their oil supplies

…and locking onto their leaders.

Multiple dangers

But our recent National Security Strategy makes clear ISIL is not the only danger we face.

We’re threatened by multiple, concurrent risks.

…a resurgence of state based threats

…an expansionist Russia

…and a growing cyber threat.

Collectively they challenge the rules-based international order on which our security and prosperity depend.

We are a powerful partner today with capabilities and reach few, if any, US allies can provide.

Tomorrow, we’re going to be an even more powerful partner.

1. Bigger stronger, defence

First, we’re investing in stronger defence in a more dangerous world.

This government was elected to deliver national as well as economic security.

That’s what we’re doing.

We’re increasing defence spending.

We’re the only major country choosing to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence and meeting the OECD’s goal of at least 0.7 per cent on development.

This helps us stabilise and support broken and fragile states and prevent crises turning into chaos.

Over the next decade we plan to spend more than $265 billion on new equipment.

That money underpins the centrepiece of our Strategic Defence and Security Review, Joint Force 2025.

To respond to increasing demands in future we’ll have

…a potent expeditionary force of up to 50,000

…made up of an Army Division, Maritime Task Group and Air Group.

Some retired generals were concerned about the size of the British Army.

Let me reassure them, Britain will remain one of the few countries able to deploy such a highly capable division in the field.

And now we’ll be able to deploy…two self-sustaining strike brigades.

At sea, we’ll have a maritime taskforce of new frigates and destroyers alongside, in the 2020s, the world’s second most capable carrier force.

And in the air, we’ll have more F35s more quickly

…delivering our carrier strike capability

…and nine new Maritime Patrol Aircraft

…protecting our nuclear deterrent.

All of this and we’re enhancing our global strike capability with more investment in our special forces.

Our new Joint Force lets us do more independently, but also more in tandem with you.

That’s why we’ve made a point of investing in shared platforms

…like P8, like Rivet Joint, like Reaper

And with the United States locating their European F35 base in the UK

…I look forward not just to welcoming you on board our carriers

… as I was welcomed on USS Theodore Roosevelt

…but seeing your F35s flying from our decks

…and ours flying from yours.

Two-way street

So we have the will and the means to respond.

As we become a stronger partner I want our relationship to become more of a 2-way street.

We’re investing more in you and we’re expecting more from you.

I want to see more contracts in the supply chain flowing from the majors on these programmes to British companies.

We have so much common.

Look at our areas of shared interest such as our nuclear enterprise.

We’re spending almost $47 billion on 4 new Successor submarines.

And the US is also looking to replace the Ohio… that uses the same common missile compartment.

Look at our expertise in a huge range of areas.

We’re building 15 per cent of each F35 produced, from tail parts to wing tips.

We have unique Dual-Mode Brimstone missiles, bringing a high precision capability to the fight again Daesh not even the US have.

Many of the companies we use have footprints in both the US and the UK.

Illustrating a level of industrial integration that is unique.

It surely makes sense for both of us to benefit from the industrial expertise that exists in our countries.

2. Strengthening our influence

Second, the UK is doing more to project our influence around the world and strengthen the international rules based order.

This year UK forces were involved in more than 20 operations around the globe.

We’re one of your few global partners.

In Europe, we’re your closest ally.

And we’ve been urging our European colleagues to up their game.

The threats Europe faces on its eastern and southern flanks highlights the value of a joined up response, using our membership of NATO, the UN and the EU to protect our security.

Britain has pressed the EU to play an important role as part of a comprehensive approach, mobilising its economic might to enforce sanctions on Russia and co-operate on security in the wake of Paris.

None of this means giving up on our sovereignty.

What it does mean we can have the best of both worlds: free to act on our own accord with the swiftness and strength that comes from being an independent nation; but working with a bloc of 27 other countries to advance our shared interests.

But NATO remains the cornerstone of our defence.

And at Wales last year our PM and your President, urged NATO nations to do more.

Since then 7 countries have pledged to increase their spending.

We’re also stepping up our leadership role

…leading NATO’s high readiness Spearhead force in 2017

…bringing six northern EU nations together as a new expeditionary force

…and having a persistent presence in the Baltic states and Poland

We’re also looking beyond Europe’s borders, doubling peace keeping efforts in Africa and strengthening our hand in the Asia Pacific.

We’re elevating our defence relationship with India with more joint military exercises and co-operation on technology and manufacturing.

We’re enhancing our relationship with Japan. In January, we held our first combined Foreign and Defence Ministers’ meeting in London. Next January, we hold the second in Tokyo.

When it comes to China we’re clear.

We want to work more closely with them and bind them into the rules based international order.

But provocative behaviour in the South China Sea destabilises the region and increases the risk of miscalculation.

We want to see maritime and other disputes settled peacefully in accordance with international law.

We’re also investing more than $750 milion over the next decade…expanding our presence with British Defence Staffs in the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.

3. Innovation

Finally, the UK will have stronger defence because we’re investing in innovation.

The US’s 3rd Offset strategy addresses the erosion of the west’s technological edge.

Our SDSR also recognises the need to keep ahead of our adversaries: in cyber, robotics, autonomous systems, and space.

We’re putting $1.5 billion into an innovation fund to secure operational advantage in future.

You’ve set up the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) to access innovation in Silicon Valley.

We will be launching our Emerging Technology and Innovation Analysis Cell.

…to identify game changing technologies.

We’re also setting up a new centre to pool the intelligence of the best British brains in business, academia and the public sector.

And, next year, we introduce a new defence innovation initiative adopting a different approach to risk and doing more to test new ideas.

But we know when we work together we’re more than the sum of our parts.

2015 marks 75 years since British scientist Henry Tizard set off for the US on orders from Churchill, armed only with a top secret briefcase.

That precious cargo, containing blueprints for radar, the jet engine and nuclear fission, helped win a war.

We’re building on those firm foundations.

Today we’re collaborating on everything from F35

…to insect-like Black Hornet UAVs

…and quantum clocks.

Yet as Defence Secretary Carter and I announced in London…we’re tightening those ties

… working on emerging technology demonstrators

…better use of joint war gaming to test out new ideas

…and adapting new operating concepts fit for a new environment.


The opportunity that comes from innovation has wider applications.

Defence technologies are often spun off in the commercial sector.

Together we’ve given the world GPS, the world wide web, and splash proof technology.

Recently British company Reaction Engines and BAE systems signed a deal to develop the SABRE (Synergetic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine).

Its aircraft will operate at over five times the speed of sound and can transition to a rocket mode, allowing spaceflight at speeds up to orbital velocity.

Once this was science fiction.

Today our scientists are making it science fact.

We need to do more to take advantage of this dual-use technology.


So, at a time of growing threats the UK is stepping up with bigger, stronger defence.

We’re increasing our defence budget and the size and power of our forces so we can do more to protect our security.

By doing so we are becoming an even stronger partner with our most steadfast ally, the United States.

Open societies, successful countries like Britain and the United States, attract enemies as well as envy. The more open we are, the harder we must work to ensure that all our people enjoy the security that comes with greater freedoms.

As we look ahead, we recall the words of Karl Popper who said: “We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than that only freedom can make security secure.”

So together we will plan for security, for freedom and for prosperity.

Together we will overcome the evil we face, preserve our cherished values, and open up opportunity for our people to make their mark

Together, in a darker, more dangerous world we will continue to be a light among the nations.