NEWS

U.K.: Britain's New National Security Strategy

By Matthew Harwood

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown released today the country's national security strategy, its first attempt to meet the challenges presented by new threats, which range from jihadist terrorism to climate change, since the Soviet Union's demise and Northern Ireland's peace process.

Referring to the new strategy, Brown said before the House of Commons:

It states that while our obligation to protect the British people and the British national interest is fixed and unwavering, the nature of the threats and the risks we face have - in recent decades - changed beyond recognition and confound all the old assumptions about national defence and international security.

He continued that the processes of globalization have created new threats and that instability can no longer be contained in far-off lands.

Today, no country is in the old sense far away when the consequences of regional instability and terrorism - and then also climate change, poverty, mass population movements and even organised crime - reverberate quickly round the globe.

This reality, Brown said, makes it necessary to bring all the resources of national power to bear to better protect Britain. To do so, Brown called for a series of changes to the national security architecture, according to the Guardian.

  • increased retention bonuses worth up to £15,000 for long-serving servicemen and women
  • security service staffing levels to rise to 4,000, double the number in 2001
  •  the previously-confidential national register of risks to be published later this year, "so the Briitsh public can see at first hand the challenges we face"
  •  the creation of a national security forum, bringing together business leaders, academics, community organisations, and military and security experts to advise the government on security
  • a 1,000-strong British civilian force to be available for stabilisation work in fragile or failing states
  • increased powers for the parliamentary intelligence and security committee

Noting that Britain faced 30 known terrorist plots and are surveiling 200 terrorist networks comprising 2,000 people, Brown wants to establish four regional counterterrorism units plus four regional intelligence units while increasing the budget of the joint terrorism analysis center by 10 percent.

Other matters tackled by the national security strategy included nuclear proliferation and protecting the country against cyberattacks. BBC.com reports the strategy ranks climate change as threatening to the island as terrorism.

Conservative leader David Cameron welcomed Brown's document  but complained it resembled more of a list than a strategy. Cameron's Conservatives also criticized Brown needs for not creating a permanent security council.

Responding to Brown, Cameron said:

Can the Prime Minister explain why the government has decided to set up a national security forum - another 'talking shop' - instead of a proper national security council? Surely a proper national security council would have dedicated staff and decision making powers; it would be at the heart of government with all the relevant ministers and be chaired by the Prime Minister.

Brown responded that he already has a National Security Committee that performs the role of Cameron's recommended security council. As Brown told the House of Commons, the national security forum would "advise the recently constituted National Security Committee," which he chairs.

 

 

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