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Gavin Williamson: Armed Forces have to be prepared to use hard power Gavin Williamson: Armed Forces have to be prepared to use hard power
(about 9 hours later)
The UK needs a bolder and stronger armed forces prepared to use "hard power" or risk being seen as a "paper tiger", the defence secretary will say. The UK needs a bolder and stronger armed forces prepared to use "hard power" or risk being seen as a "paper tiger", the defence secretary has said.
Gavin Williamson will warn in a speech that Britain must stand up to those who "flout international law". Gavin Williamson warned in a speech that Britain must stand up to those who "flout international law".
He will also say that the UK has its "greatest opportunity" to redefine its position on the world stage after Brexit. He also said Brexit had brought the UK its "greatest opportunity" to strengthen its global presence.
Labour said the military had been "completely undermined" by Tory cuts. Labour said the military's role on the international stage had been "completely undermined" by Tory cuts.
Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute on Monday, Mr Williamson will unveil plans to modernise the armed forces, and say it must increase its "mass and lethality". South China Sea
He will also confirm the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is being deployed to the Pacific region, where China has been involved in a dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute on Monday, Mr Williamson unveiled plans to modernise the armed forces, and said it must increase its "mass and lethality".
He revealed that the first investments from the multi-million pound Transformation Fund will include a new "Littoral Strike Ship concept".
He said the globally deployable, multi-role vessels would be able to conduct a wide range of operations from crisis support to fighting war.
"They would support our future Commando force, our world renowned Royal Marines - they will be forward deployed at exceptionally high readiness and able to respond at a moment's notice," he said.
He confirmed the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is being deployed to the Pacific region, where China has been involved in a dispute over territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The carrier will take part in the mission along with F-35 jets from the UK and US.The carrier will take part in the mission along with F-35 jets from the UK and US.
Mr Williamson is to use his speech to outline how cyber forces will be reinforced thanks to a "very significant investment", which will be used both to defend and launch attacks. Mr Williamson used his speech to outline how cyber forces will be reinforced to defend and launch attacks thanks to "significant investment".
The defence secretary won an extra £1.8bn for defence in the last budget. There was an extra £1.8bn for defence in the last budget.
With the boundaries between peace and war becoming "blurred" - particularly by Russia and China, he will claim - Mr Williamson will say Britain and its allies had to be ready "to use hard power to support our interests". With the boundaries between peace and war becoming "blurred" - particularly by Russia and China, he claimed - Mr Williamson said Britain and its allies had to be ready "to use hard power to support our interests".
He told those gathered for his speech that "state-on-state competition was reviving".
"Russia is resurgent - rebuilding its military arsenal to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union like Georgia and Ukraine back into its orbit," he said.
"All the while China is developing its modern capability and commercial power."
'Paper tiger''Paper tiger'
He will go on to say: "We have to be ready to show the high price of aggressive behaviour. Ready to strengthen our resilience." He said: "We have to be ready to show the high price of aggressive behaviour. Ready to strengthen our resilience."
Defending interventionist policy, he will say the cost of failing to act in global crises had often been "unacceptably high", and that Western powers cannot "walk on by when others are in need". Defending interventionist policy, he said the cost of failing to act in global crises had often been "unacceptably high", and that Western powers cannot "walk on by when others are in need".
"To talk but fail to act risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger," he will add. "To talk but fail to act risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger," he added.
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said: "The UK's ability to play our role on the international stage has been completely undermined by eight years of Tory defence cuts. Mr Williamson said Brexit brought an "unparalleled opportunity" to consider how the UK could maximise its influence around the world.
He said the UK would build new alliances and rekindle old ones, and shared his belief that Britain "should be the nation that people turn to when the world needs leadership".
But shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith said the UK's ability to play such a role had been "completely undermined by eight years of Tory defence cuts".
"The Conservatives have slashed the defence budget by over £9bn in real terms since 2010 and they are cutting armed forces numbers year after year."The Conservatives have slashed the defence budget by over £9bn in real terms since 2010 and they are cutting armed forces numbers year after year.
"Instead of simply engaging in yet more sabre-rattling, Gavin Williamson should get to grips with the crisis in defence funding that is happening on his watch." "Instead of simply engaging in yet more sabre-rattling, Gavin Williamson should get to grips with the crisis in defence funding that is happening on his watch," she said.