Army may patrol streets to confront terror threat

Long-awaited Green Paper foresees new domestic role for Britain’s services, with emphasis on greater co-operation as chiefs face up to budgetary constraints

By Kim Sengupta, Defence Correspondent

Thursday, 4 February 2010
Sir Jock Stirrup, left, and Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth

Britain’s armed forces could be used on a regular basis on the streets of Britain to confront the threat of terrorism, under the terms of a strategic defence review announced yesterday.

Two of the six “key questions” to be considered by the SDR will focus on domestic threats which “cannot be separated from international security”, according to a Green Paper setting out the grounds for a full scale review to start after the election.

Decisions need to be made on the “balance between focusing on our territory and region and engaging threats at a distance” and “what contribution the armed forces should make in ensuring security and contributing to resilience within the UK”.

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The paper states: “Stronger, more effective partnership with other Whitehall departments, the intelligence agencies, police forces and others at the national level will become even more important to achieving our security objective.”

One proposal due to be considered, according to Whitehall officials, was the formation of a rapid reaction force which could be deployed to counter Mumbai-style terrorist attacks and carry out swift operations outside the country.

On long-term missions overseas the economic circumstances meant that Britain will have to co-operate more closely with international allies like France, said the paper. While the US remained Britain’s most important strategic ally, much closer co-operation should take place with other countries.

“In Europe, the return of France to Nato’s integrated military structure offers an opportunity for even greater co-operation with a key partner across a range of defence activity” it added.

The main theme of the Paper was “adaptability”, imperative due to the varying demands on limited resources. The 52-page document admitted that although commanders on the ground in Afghanistan have shown the ability to adapt rapidly to challenges this had been undermined by the system in London.

“There is a widely held view within defence that our structures and processes have hindered strategic adaptation to evolving challenges and have not been as effective as they should have been in supporting commanders’ innovation on the ground.”

The Paper made it clear that the SDR will have to carried out against the backdrop of the £178bn deficit in the public finances. Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, stressed: "The wider financial context means resources across government will be constrained. We should not underestimate the scale of that challenge.

“We cannot proceed with all the activities and programmes we currently aspire to, while simultaneously supporting our current operations and investing in the new capabilities we need.”

The SDR, the first one in more than a decade, is supposed to take a “root- and-branch” look at defence policy with the constraint on spending a major factor. The Ministry of Defence has a £35m black hole in its budget.

However, in presenting the Green Paper yesterday Mr Ainsworth stated three times that he did not expect it to be too “radical”. He also said that one of the most contentious investment in defence, two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, is likely to go ahead.

Senior officers in the Army, doing the vast bulk of the fighting previously in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan, have forcefully argued in private that the carriers were a luxury in the current economic circumstances and were relics of the cold war in the age of the insurgent.

Mr Ainsworth said yesterday: “The strategic defence review will have to take a pretty radical direction not foreseen by me in order to suggest those capabilities will not be required” he said.

“While of course the whole defence is in the review we understand the commitments we have already made and the likelihood that those will continue to be a requirement in the future.”

The Defence Secretary also confirmed that the £20bn updating of the Trident nuclear programme, another source of debate, will also go ahead.

Conservative defence spokesman, Liam Fox, questioned how much Britain could afford to rely on European allies such as France. “We also agree that France and the United States are likely to be our main strategic partners” he said. “For us there are two tests; do they invest in defence? And do they fight? Sadly, too few Europeans pass that test.”

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, Nick Harvey, said the omission of Trident from the review had left the Green paper “unbalanced”. He continued: “Surely the manner, the scale and the timing of any replacement of Trident has cost implications for the entirety of the rest of the defence budget.”

The Military Balance, an annual assessment of international defence published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies yesterday showed that China and India significantly raised their defence spending in 2009.

India raised its defence budget by 21 per cent following the Mumbai attack the previous year, while China raised its spending in the field by 15 per cent.


‘‘Britain’s armed forces could be used on a regular basis on the streets of Britain to confront the threat of terrorism, under the terms of a strategic defence review announced yesterday.’’

hmmmmmmm could i possibly be wrong in thinking by britian they mean england and by terrorism they include those of us who actually love our country and our folk? :crazy:

bout fkin time…

i know i have some fellow ex-army here who patrolled the streets of northern they know were im comming from.

we got the job done propper.The police unfortunatly have soo much red tape and i feel so sorry for the buggers…they work there bollocks off and get a kicking from all directions on many occasions…

I remember on many a time we had to take matters in a ‘‘diffrent direction’’ when in NI on many a time to get the point accross;).Thease little scroats would’nt know what hit them.


Yup. Send in the Paras with live ammunition.

“Sir Jock Stirrup” Really? This is a joke, surely.

no joke haha…thats his ACTUAL name!!!:hehe:

yes…live rounds ained at anyone suspected as a jihadist…man or woman…you never know if theyve got an ak47 under them birkas or what!!

I thought I was reading an early April Fool’s but it turns out that really is his name! :slight_smile:

So you are seriously suggesting to shoot at anyone in a burka? Man, woman or child?

OK, let’s think about this sensibly for a moment. I doubt very much that HM Gov.t will be deploying Infantry troops on the ground in the UK. The most we’ll see probably is MPGS and Military Police assisting local police forces, and only starting to see Combat Troops when required in an emergency. They are basically modifying “Aid to the Civil Power” to make it easier for troops to be called for in an emergency.

And they already have a QRF for international stuff. It’s called the SAS, or the SFSG.

well they have every reason to disguise themselves as women…you can never know…just like the vietcong disguised themselves as civilians and rice farmers back in vietnam…our boys are facing the very same problem over in afghan!!

extreme times=extreme measures.


haha…im abit tied…im ex-army but i was a marine cadet lol ROYAL ADJUANT GENERALS REGIMENT OF FOOT,BORN 28 OCT 1664.:wink: never forget that lol

…what? Why on earth would the Adjutant General have a regiment of foot, that’s pretty much an oxymoron, in regimental naming terms. Sure you don’t mean the Duke of York and Albany’s Maritime Regiment of Foot, later known as the Admiral’s Regiment, which was founded 28th Oct 1664 to fight the Dutch at sea?

**** you two guys know some history there !!!

Can anyone explain to me how having troops on british streets would help fight the greatly exagerated threat of terrorism?. What an absolutely ridiculous suggestion, it reeks of knee-jerkism.

well after reading in one of the papers the other day that argentina and the uk wanting the oil off of falklands as well as the argentine president Cristina Kirchner wanting the island back i have a funny feeling that might kick off again so i doubt they would have any troops spare to partol the streets what with a rather stretched force as it is

It makes Gordon Brown look tough coming up to an election . . . compared to the moron he really is.

are you havign a laugh!?

they was better off WITHOUT british troops there…caused more problems with the british army occupying than without!

personally i think we have a very good specialist armed units within the met and other big citys, we definetly do not need troops on the ground.

besides there was talk of the stockwell incident being special forces and not met units, who knows?

i’m not sure but i’d bet theres an counter-terrosist unit of the 22nd on standby at all times.

i’ve read rumours this was (or at least had intel from) SRR’s work. (Special Reconnaissance Regiment)…who know’s?

smiled (08/02/2010)

bout fkin time…we got the job done propper.The police unfortunatly have soo much red tape and i feel so sorry for the buggers…they work there ******** off and get a kicking from all directions on many occasions…

I agree with the origional post, I think this country could do with troops on the steets. Even its to bring the indigenous scumbags to book, the british forces have massive respect in this country. but smiled hit the nail on the head, the police are constrained by so much red tape and p/c bullsh#t and the forces would end up exactly the same and consequently would fight a losing battle just like the plod

Opsy daisy.

I come from a Royal Marine and Para background, going back to before WW2.

I passed alot of the Royal Marine training. Putting soldiers on the street is a joke.

They are not trained for that. From experience, you shouldn’t use a soldier for crowd control, you cant beat a healthy punch up, especially with some stinky little civvy that thinks hes “Jimmy big ********” chucking bricks at you.

Armed Police are normally quite good, especially the city boys who are used to aggressive take downs. They do think they are god tho. Sadly most can not run more than 100 metres without being knackered.