British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon says a major review is underway to improve Britain's military readiness against global terrorism. Mr. Hoon outlined his views today in a speech to academics in London.
Defense Secretary Hoon says Britain must rethink its counter-terrorism plans in light of September's attacks against the United States. "The scale and the coordination of the attack on the 11th of September, and the willingness of educated terrorists to lose their lives, are also major differences from anything we have seen before. The threshold of terrorism has potentially been raised. And the risk of terrorists turning to chemical, biological and radiological means may have increased," he explained.
Mr. Hoon says pre-emptive military strikes may be necessary in the future to prevent terrorists from using weapons of mass destruction. "We must look at how we deter the use of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons as well as nuclear weapons and crucially, dissuade those who facilitate the proliferation of such weapons. We may need to coerce regimes and states which harbor or support international terrorism with the threat, and ultimately the use of, military forces in the event that diplomatic and other means fail," he said.
Mr. Hoon said British troops also might be sent abroad to help countries re-establish sovereignty over areas which have fallen under control of terrorists. He said military reserves might be called on to back up civilian authorities in case of terrorist attack on the British homeland.
Officials plan to complete the defense review by the middle of next year.