Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1-19)




  1. Mr Webb, Air Marshal, Major-General, welcome to what is not only the first session of our current inquiry, but the first public session of this new Defence Committee. In this first evidence session in what is a preliminary inquiry into the threat from terrorism we take as our starting point the MoD's plans to revisit the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) and to add a new chapter, as the Secretary of State described it, relating to the debate on international terrorism. Thank you for the preliminary briefing we had in the Ministry of Defence. At this stage we are still determining the exact form our inquiry will take: not just monitoring what you are doing, as we did when the SDR was being researched and published, but we are still defining the form our inquiry will take. It will certainly include homeland defence, emergency planning, missile defence amongst the many subjects on which we will have to deliver speedily. I suspect that events will not wait for a leisurely royal-commission-type inquiry either by the Ministry of Defence or ourselves. We will not in this session be covering current operations for two reasons: one is that they are very sensitive and this is being televised; you will have to wait to read about some things in The Guardian tomorrow, they certainly will not come from us. Secondly, our inquiry is very broad anyway and frankly I do not think it would be appropriate to intrude on what is already a very difficult and long agenda. Anything else you would like to add before we commence hostilities?
  (Mr Webb) Asymmetrically no doubt.

  2. We are the weaker ones.

  (Mr Webb) May I introduce my team and explain for new members who they are and what they do. Air Marshal Joe French is Chief of Defence Intelligence, which probably explains itself. Major-General Tony Milton is the Director General for Joint Doctrine and Concepts, which is a newish post which came after the Strategic Defence Review and I am sure Tony will find an opportunity to explain a bit more about the contribution Doctrine and Concepts makes. This is very much a team looking at the forward policy agenda and thank you for your understanding about the current operations. Would it be helpful just to say a few words about how we are approaching the studies here?

  3. Please. It might remove at least 14 of our questions and speed things up! Seriously, if there is anything that needs to be said in private, then we will accommodate your request.
  (Mr Webb) Thank you for your understanding about that too. The first point to make is that the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces are only one segment of the British Government's approach to this issue. This is being tackled across government and amongst the key players are the Foreign Office on the foreign policy content, a new part of government called the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, which is now set up in the Cabinet Office which is responsible for the management of crises within the UK. Obviously the Home Office, Treasury and a range of other departments and agencies are involved. All the time it is important to recognise that we are but a segment of this and we spend a considerable amount of effort making sure that we are in good co-ordination with those other parts of government. We are looking at what Mr Hoon has described as the new chapter of the Strategic Defence Review under four main headings in the work we are now getting underway and on which, as our memorandum indicated, we shall be welcoming public debate. The first is to look at the strategic context. We published a booklet about the strategic context of defence which mentioned the asymmetric warfare issue. We shall be looking at that and seeing whether any updating is required of that. We shall be wanting to think quite hard about the basis of terrorism, where it comes from, what its roots are. We shall be looking at the risks in the broadest sense, we shall be looking at legal issues, we shall be looking at the existing defence planning assumptions. This is all as a backdrop to other work. One of the things I expect we shall be doing is trying to generate a range of what I call asymmetric events, in other words to look at the sorts of things which might happen of which 11 September was an example and perhaps in a cell where we shall do some work on this with other people across government, particularly the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, who will also be interested in asymmetric events. We shall try to generate a series of events which will allow us better to think through and study what the potential risks are. That will give rise to some issues. We have identified four or five issues which will come out in questioning which we think are well worth debate before we get to conclusions. The second leg of this is homeland defence. It is worth mentioning that the armed forces share responsibilities in this arena obviously. We are particularly interested in a classic defence sense in defending the homeland, which nowadays may need to be read in a NATO and European context and we shall no doubt get onto that, particularly from the aircraft and seaborne missile type of threat. That is very much Defence led business. Once you get on land and you are talking about installations on land and a terrorist on foot or in a vehicle or whatever, that tends to be very much more of a police lead in some circumstances, certainly in dealing with the Home Office end of the business. If sadly we have an incident, then the consequence management is very much a matter for the Civil Contingencies Secretariat. I just mention that distinction and we can go into that in more detail if you like. Homeland defence is certainly part of our study. To pick up a point you made, Chairman, this is an area in which despite our desire to think through this all very carefully and deeply, if we see things which need to be done in that arena, particularly on the rogue aircraft threat on which things have already been done, then we would take action more quickly. Mr Hoon is quite clear that that is an area where we will take immediate action; some of the rest of it will be longer term. We then have a strand about countering terrorism and General Milton will be able to talk about the doctrinal and conceptual base for that. It is very much looking at the issue of how far we try tackle it at a distance or on its way to us or wait for it to come near to us; how we understand the bases of terrorism, what is the best way of going about it, the whole question later on in the study of the military capability which is required to deal with that and all the components of a modern military campaign, including for example information operations which you mentioned in one of your reports as being a dimension we should pay attention to. The fourth main strand will be to look at the international and coalition dimension. Obviously we are already in action in NATO from a defence point of view but there is activity in the EU under pillar three, the internal security end. There is the important role for ESDP, so we shall be doing some work on that. Coupled with the important question of deterrence, which is not just a question of defeating terrorism but deterring it in the first place; we shall have a strand of work there which will get into counter-proliferation and other issues of that kind. All this will be underpinned by a clear conceptual base. That is a quick conspectus of what we shall be getting into and I am very happy to take your questions.

  4. You can save yourself a lot of work by reading the most important document, namely the Defence Committee's report on the SDR published three years ago which is a document I am sure you will locate somewhere—under a bookcase perhaps.
  (Mr Webb) I have the extract in my papers and feel adequately rebuked.

  5. Including the gem—and no-one has admitted guilt for this—that a terrorist attack could conceivably give rise to an Article 5 commitment for NATO. Whoever was responsible for what seemed to be idiocy at that time has powers of prophecy and if he or she would come forward we should like to identify him or her and congratulate them on their farsightedness. Thank you very much. We shall be tracking what you are doing and as we have not succeeded in developing an integrated committee structure in this House, we shall be following areas which would not traditionally be part of the Defence Committee's work, with the approval of the appropriate other committees like Home Affairs, etcetera. The SDR listed eight defence missions, covering current priorities, etcetera. I shall not bore you with the details because obviously you know them. Under which of these missions is Operation Veritas being conducted? Or is it a new kind of mission not specifically envisaged in the SDR?
  (Mr Webb) It is new in one sense but fits well with the conception behind the SDR in another sense. The SDR itself reflected a shunt towards expeditionary warfare, towards the idea that the main risks and threats to security were likely to be at some distance from the UK, possibly outside the boundaries of our alliances and that therefore we should be in a position to deploy forces rapidly and effectively into those areas. That has been something which has been built up very successfully since the Strategic Defence Review and the large exercise just wrapping up now in Oman, Saif Sareea, was a test of the key elements of that and has proved to be a very successful test. In the broad sense expeditionary warfare was part of the SDR and things like the acquisition of the deep strike element of Tomahawk and the capacity for those kinds of operations was very much within the sense of the SDR. What is new about it, which is why I am hesitant about saying Veritas is part of our existing tasks and missions, is the scale and difficulty of the task that may face us. There is a larger threat out there, larger risk out there than we had previously expected. That does not necessarily tell you anything about how we are going to deal with it, but it is a variation on a problem that was in the SDR. A lot of what we have done is very relevant, but we do not want to sit on our laurels and say everything is fine. As Mr Hoon has indicated, we want to do the new chapter and check out whether we still have the right capabilities or whether adjustments are needed.

  6. Peacetime security was the first listed mission of our armed forces in the SDR. Within it the SDR states in paragraph 46 that "support against terrorism of all kinds will remain of the highest priority for the foreseeable future". What kind of actions did the SDR identify in regard to this anti-terrorism capability?
  (Mr Webb) It would be fair to say that the SDR in itself did not lead to a huge increase in that area because we had had to develop so much capacity to deal with the problems of terrorism arising in Ireland and because we had, through a series of incidents such as the well-known Iranian embassy siege, aircraft hijacks and so on, to consider the defence role in support of dealing with those kinds of incidents before. Though there was an increased emphasis on the terrorism side, I do not think it led to a very substantial increase in capacity. Is that your impression, Tony?
  (Major-General Milton) Yes, that is very much the case; I would agree with that.

  7. Did NATO really think about having an anti-terrorist function after 11 September or was anything being planned before? I can recall in the 1980s immense hostility from the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence and NATO for any involvement in counter-terrorism. Can you recall any point at which NATO began to realise that one of its military functions should be dealing with the threat of terrorism?
  (Mr Webb) There was a reluctance in the past because it was seen as a route into countries' internal affairs, which an alliance like NATO is always careful about. One of the differences of 11 September is this question of scale. Therefore it did not take us very long to conclude that the scale and the engagement against the national command system of a leading country, various other elements of 11 September, added up to something new. Of course lots of countries within NATO had been developing counter-terrorist capacity of one kind or another. Spain, for example has had a substantial problem with ETA. Countries vary a bit in their capacity but it had been around and there had been discussions about it but we had not quite seen the need to collectivise it in the way that 11 September has changed the scene. May I say throughout that it is a very helpful debate because it stimulates us but we need to be a bit careful about stating too many conclusions too soon to you? This is the sort of thing we need to take a month or two before we air something for our conclusions.

  8. One of the list of missions related to defence diplomacy. To what extent has defence diplomacy, which appeared to be largely directed at former Warsaw Pact countries, put us in a better security position?
  (Mr Webb) There has been a big programme with the former Warsaw Pact countries and it has had one effect which is interesting. We have had a lot of contact with Russia, for example, at a detailed level. You probably know that we have been running a resettlement programme for Russian officers all through the 1990s and that has given us contact with the Russian Ministry of Defence, so when Mr Hoon and I went there in October that was one strand of existing contact which we could build upon to talk about international terrorism. The other point about defence diplomacy is that it has built links on quite a wide range of countries so that we have contacts on a defence level with lots of countries. When we start getting into coalitions and particularly if we start needing to put together more complicated coalitions, we will find that we know people because we have had the diplomacy mission, we have perhaps had training, they have been to staff colleges here, we have had a deliberate programme of contact. This is not to say we could not do some more, but it has certainly given us a starting point with very many countries. It has been very helpful from that point of view.
  (Major-General Milton) I may be able to give some practical examples. My organisation is furthering peace support operations and we find ourselves dealing with a lot of non-NATO countries, India, Bangladesh, South America. All this is building up confidence, it is making us understand them better and they us. Breaking down that mistrust, it will make coalitions easier to form, certainly at the military to military level.

  9. Parallel with defence diplomacy is all the action over the 1990s in relating better to potential applicant members to NATO with the Outreach programme and the action plan, all hopefully yielding advantage. In the current environment, is there a need for more defence diplomacy of the sort undertaken so far, or does it have to be refocused to reflect new priorities of the current security situation?
  (Mr Webb) I would need to think about that. There is this question that if the international environment does require us to operate in coalitions, one of the things I have learned is that you cannot just chuck military units together and expect them to work without having known one another very well. Sometimes this is done very rapidly. If you look at something like Task Force Harvest in Macedonia which was mostly a country we knew, sometimes you need to do this very quickly. There is a question for us about whether we should do more systematic contacts, aimed rather more specifically at coalitions for particular types of operation. We do it on the peacekeeping side; maybe we ought to do a bit more of that. It is certainly something worth thinking about. As ever, we need to balance resources against effect.

  10. The SDR sets as broad benchmarks for the capabilities of our armed forces that they should be able to sustain a major international crisis comparable to the Gulf War, or two smaller deployments simultaneously. Things have grown more complicated since 1998. Given the nature of our potential commitments in Afghanistan against continuing commitments in the Balkans, Sierra Leone, the Falklands, etcetera, are these benchmarks still valid? If we find ourselves with an increasing number of relatively small scale commitments, do we have the necessary resources, manpower, logistical capability to sustain them?
  (Mr Webb) There are two questions in there, if I might suggest. There is one about overall scale and one about mix. On mix, there is a question about whether one should orient oneself a bit more towards the smaller operations which have been a feature of the last few years, the Sierra Leone kind, and away perhaps from some of the larger scale. However, one has to be very careful about this because one of the things we must be very careful to sustain is the capacity for high intensity and integrated operations which is the keynote of what we can offer to the international security environment. One needs to proceed with caution there. It is a bit too soon to say, but I certainly think there is a question for us to be thinking about, about whether we should give more specific emphasis to small operations. Against that, perhaps we have become a little more proficient at handing over operations to other people. Harvest is a very good example. We went and did an operation rather below medium scale but we did it with 30 days and now we are not there significantly and other people have taken it on. So there is that dimension too. There are number of things to think about here and as we get to the back end of the study and work out what tasks we need to meet, we shall probably come back just to check whether that looks right. I suspect we shall find it looks a bit more right than it does at the moment, but let us think it through.
  (Major-General Milton) In military terms the greatest stresses on these concurrent operations are the enablers, the deployability, communications, intelligence. It is those areas, those enabling functions which a large number of concurrent operations puts the greatest stress on. That is the area we need to look at. The SDR did make major changes in that and it did bring forward and readjust priorities on programming for those enablers. That process is not finished yet, but as we move in that direction, we are going to become more able to conduct these various concurrent operations. It is a big stress, there is no doubt about it.

Mr Howarth

  11. Given that there is a new chapter currently being written to the SDR, given what you say and despite your suggestion that a rebalancing of the forces will be a way of meeting the SDR idea on the one major or two minor deployments, surely the question is going to arise that you are going to be sending in another invoice to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and it could be quite a substantial invoice.
  (Mr Webb) I do not want to get too far beyond what Mr Hoon and others have already said about this subject on the floor of the House. We will be doing the work to look at what we think is needed in order to meet Britain's defence, particularly in this homeland arena and in countering terrorism. I am not feeling under any constraint not to raise the issue of a cheque. On the other hand, we all share the Government's aspirations for proper control of public expenditure in a general sense. All I would say is that we are going to do the work based on what we think is needed and very much at the end, and there is no point in me speculating about it at the moment, we shall see what additions might be necessary on this side, how they match into the overall position. It is just not worth speculating at this point. No-one has told us to constrain ourselves in that direction, so we shall not.

  12. Surely it is a question of flagging up the necessity for the public to accept that Defence has to command a higher proportion of the national cake if we are going to meet all the aspirations which you are setting out.
  (Mr Webb) I shall make a note of that.

  Chairman: We have been saying exactly this for the last 20 years. There was a very interesting article in today's Financial Times on the demands in the US for enhancing homeland defence, "$256m to improve security on Capitol Hill". Whether you like it or not, whether the Treasury likes it or not, the aspirations, if matched by resources, are going to be not insubstantial. Frankly people have to be aware of that if we want greater security. It will be rather difficult to improve security within the constraints of existing budgets, particularly in the Ministry of Defence. That is above your pay grade, Mr Webb and we shall refer to that ad nauseam later on.

Mr Jones

  13. A lot of commentators on 11 September said we were into a new world now and a new set of situations. Are we facing a new type of terrorism? September 11 was certainly the first time we saw airliners used as a weapon, as they were. Are we going to see a ratcheting up of atrocities, possibly the use of unconventional weapons? Are we thinking that we are going to be using new technologies and possibly the use of weapons we had not thought of? I do not think many people before 11 September had thought an airliner would be used as a weapon. Does that make homeland security more difficult in terms of the insecurity we are facing as a nation?
  (Mr Webb) There are some very interesting and important points there. I said that we have some big subjects for debate and you have gone on to at least two or three of those. You can say that most of the ingredients of 11 September had been present before. There has actually been an attempt to use an airliner in that way, there has been a certain number of suicide attacks as by Tamil Tigers. And other people have had a go at central government authority; the IRA put a mortar into 10 Downing Street. Individual elements have in some ways been present before, but it was the co-ordination, the planning, the scale and the evident willingness of the people to sacrifice their own lives which has created a new dimension and that is why I am sure Mr Hoon is right to get us to do a new chapter. One of the concerns I have, and this is the challenge of the policy debate in a way, is to try to ensure that we have not set some new threshold of horror that other people feel they have to meet; in other words that killing 5,000 people in a major country's major city does not become something that other people try to do better than, which leads you into looking at unconventional weapons and a range of dangerous devices. That is one of the most important reasons in my view why the deterrent side of this policy review is so important. We need to find ways of deterring people from that action and it is a very good reason indeed for taking firm action at an early stage. That is one important dimension you raised. The other question is how far we can continue to expect to get specific intelligence of an attack so we can counter it, preferably offshore, and base our security policy on that and how far we may not be able to assume that and have to look at our vulnerabilities against capabilities. One of the reasons why I want to set up this cell I was talking about to look at asymmetric events is so I can get some people, scientists, military people, intelligence people, to model what might be in the minds of people who are thinking of doing that. This will obviously have to remain pretty secret because we do not want to say what we think they might be doing. Then we shall look at our vulnerabilities to that. We will need to debate out this question of specific intelligence against general vulnerabilities. It is an important policy issue which we shall want to think through.
  (Air Marshal French) The major ingredient which was new here was very much the scale of 11 September. If we are actually looking at asymmetric threats, we should not set it from the military perspective just in the context of terrorism. It is something your own Committee has reported on in the past that when you are looking at military activity, asymmetry is very much a part of that. You only have to look at the likes of Sri Lanka with the odd speedboat being used to go alongside a ship of that country, look at some of the tactics Iran seems to be looking at with swarm tactics where you use several very small boats which can go alongside a ship. You could argue that the incident with the United States ship Cole earlier this year falls into that sort of category. When we talk of scale, we should not lose sight of the fact that the bombings, if we put it in the context of this event on 11 September by Osama bin Laden, and of the bombing of the embassies in East Africa two or three years ago and the Cole incident earlier this year, whilst there was intelligence of a possible UBL attack, it was very difficult to get details of what, when and where. On your point about ratcheting up, if there is any ratcheting up then it is a matter of whether this provides a benchmark and we cannot ever give a precise answer on that. Surprise is one of the key principles of war: it also is one of the advantages the terrorist has. When you say ratcheting up, are you talking of that over a period of weeks, months? The element of surprise could involve leaving your next terrorist act for several years. You can instill unrest or terror by not actually doing something but threatening to do it. There are very many ingredients which we shall have to look at and the fundamental cause of some of this terrorism which we can perhaps look at early on from a broad deterrent aspect. One of the worries which was highlighted in the media today is this whole question of a slight splitting of hairs of weapons of mass effect which is what the category of 11 September was; very ingenious in terms of using an aircraft as opposed to weapons of mass destruction. This is where the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear aspects come into play. It is no secret that from 1993 onwards UBL has been looking for that sort of capability and that has been highlighted in the media today. Innovation is one of those aspects we shall have to look at and terrorism down the years has shown that there are technologies which can be exploited and the terrorist can very much do that. Just looking at first glance at what happened on 11 September, when we talk of suicide attacks, and obviously many terrorists were killed in the process, there is perhaps the question of education and motivation. Traditionally we rather thought of a suicide bomber as perhaps a tanker truck driver or something similar and a rather simple foot soldier to put it in very crude terms, whereas you are actually looking now at a nature of terrorism where you have some of the perpetrators who have gone through very good scientific degrees; the training ground can be in one country for that aspect of their training. They have then gone to great trouble to learn how to fly aircraft, perhaps not beyond a rudimentary degree but this has been brought up over a significant amount of time. This comes into the element that there are so many different facets of terrorism that we have to look at again and try to get a better understanding of it. Yes, I would have a bit of caution as to what you mean by ratcheting up: unconventional, yes, that is the nature of terrorism. We have to see whether there are new strands which fall out of what happened on 11 September. Yes, we must always be alert to the imaginative use of new technologies and other ways of perpetrating these acts.

  14. You have touched on the scale and planning and intelligence of 11 September. Not wanting you to divulge confidential or classified information, but does that set some clear questions in terms of intelligence gathering, how we use it and in terms of the review, is that going to have a resource implication in terms of the overall Defence budget?
  (Air Marshal French) Yes, it will be reviewed, but as I am sure you will appreciate, the Security Service are actually responsible for the assessments for terrorist activity and that comes under the Intelligence and Security Committee and I am sure they will be going through a similar process to this. We shall link into that but I would not want to go beyond that at this stage.

  Chairman: I must tell you that they are as furtive as you are. In fact one of the former members is sitting behind us watching what we are asking.

Syd Rapson

  15. Is our friend Mr bin Laden creating polarisation or is he tapping into a natural global resentment towards the West and especially the USA? What can we do to counter that?
  (Mr Webb) We need to be careful not to talk him up too much. There is a risk in all these situations of over-generalising. The huge weight of opinion across the world, including Islamic countries of all kinds, has been to completely dissociate themselves from this. We just need to be careful that we do not make too much of him. He may just be someone who has wild ideas, access to money and a number of associates, including of course help and integration with the Taleban, which is a complicating factor in Afghanistan. Forgive me for not going too far into this, because it gets a bit close to the current operation, but I personally think we should be careful about building people up too far and that is my comment on that.

  16. The attack in America and the anthrax attacks have frightened people across the world. The psychological effects of that are quite devastating. Is this a new development? I have certainly not witnessed it before. Does it need to be specifically addressed in the SDR? Panic and worry and fear is spreading all over the place because of the unknown content of delivery and where it is going to happen and it is something that I certainly have never experienced in any of my readings. It is new and does the SDR need to look at that very, very carefully?
  (Mr Webb) I am sorry to be bureaucratic about this but a lot of this really is for the Home Office and the Civil Contingencies Secretariat. They have done a rather good job in trying to get this calibrated within the UK. You cannot take away from the risks, but on the other hand, you do not want to exaggerate them. What we do know from a defence point of view is that there are quite well made contingency plans. I personally have participated in exercises on how to deal with these kinds of situations in the past and we helped the civil authorities in what I hope I can claim was a rather well integrated way. Where we have specialist capacity for example on disposal of explosive ordnance, bomb disposal or on the nature of some of these chemical or biological agents we, the Ministry of Defence, help civil authorities with that. I think it is important to try to get it into perspective. I am glad you mentioned this, because part of the study we shall be doing is trying to help and our dialogue with you is a way. What you feel is the mood in the constituencies is in a way part of what we should be tackling because we should be going to that, trying not to be stupidly reassuring but on the other hand trying to get the thing in some perspective. That is part of our job and your comments are important to us.

  17. To reflect the mood in the constituencies, the people who have spoken to me have been fairly confident about the military and the Home Office dealing with the known threats in the past, the bomb threats, the expected terror weapons which perhaps the IRA would use. We are fairly confident that people can deal with that. There is a great concern as to whether we are competent enough to deal with the anthrax problem if it were to hit us. In America they seem to be lost and people are in need of it. There might well be a need for departments to concentrate on that to ease the tension of ordinary people. The fear is in everyone, even myself. If I see some white powder, I am not sure whether to report it or not. That is the feeling in the constituencies.
  (Mr Webb) Thank you.


  18. It appears that bin Laden has a very good Psy-Ops operation. I wish we had somebody who had the skills to frighten two thirds of the world by issuing a video; a very good press department too, but we have also. Both attacks have had significant psychological implications for the populations affected. What lessons have we learnt? I know we have gone—not many in this room—through the Second World War and the devastation and the psychological impact. What lessons do you think we have learnt from what has happened over the last two or three months?
  (Mr Webb) This is a particular one on which we need a bit of time to get a decent perspective. Let me give you an initial answer, not just to stave it off like that. May I make one point which does not always come through which is that he was responsible for a terrible act, but he did not have a strategic effect on United States' policy. If he thought he was going to change their policy in some respect in the Middle East, he has not, indeed it is pretty clear that not only the US Government but also the Congress have not reacted in that way at all, but they have been strengthened in their resolve both to deal with him and the Taleban and not to be deflected from the normal process of developing their policy. I should like to say—and I am getting a bit emphatic here—that he has not succeeded, he has failed and if this were happening in Britain I suspect we would be equally robust to that. That is one important thing we need to keep saying. We used to say that about other terrorist organisations domestically and it is very important to get that across. I do think that it would be good to see whether we could find a way of dealing with the fear point that Mr Rapson brought up, that we ought to try to see whether we can counter that fear by being able to get it in proportion. It is tricky, because one does not want to downplay risks unnecessarily. The best I can say is that the information operation which is part of modern military practice is a component of our study. I mentioned it in passing but it will be part of the strand which Tony will be helping us with and we shall be part of that. There are some issues around being able to respond rapidly to getting these kinds of incidents into perspective. Our Ministers have got very good at that but we need to go over whether we are supporting them well enough with all the techniques and what to do if the stories are coming out of a new source we do not normally deal with, for example.
  (Major-General Milton) This psychological element is absolutely critical. May I just quote briefly from our British Defence Doctrine, which you have been given copies of fairly recently. We say that the manoeuvrist approach, which is the approach we seek to follow, is one in which shattering the enemy's overall cohesion and will to fight rather than his materiel is paramount. There is nothing new in this and it is something we would aim to do ourselves. The trick is how we manage it defensively for ourselves but then apply that to our opponent. That is what we need to look at very carefully. It is this business of perception management and the philosophy of kill one, terrify ten thousand. How we manage that is absolutely key and we shall be looking at that continually.

Mr Crausby

  19. May I expand on the feeling in the constituencies to those who are not necessarily frightened but are aggressive? I was shocked in my constituency to hear how opposed some members of the Muslim community—and I emphasise a tiny minority of the Muslim community—were to America, the depth of their opposition to the USA. How much internal threat is there? How much can we deal with that and more importantly how do we take the minority communities along the road with us, not to overplay Osama bin Laden or anyone else, but just to ensure that we really are all pushing in the right direction?
  (Mr Webb) I really am going to step aside on that one because that really is not a job for the Ministry of Defence.

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