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PostSubject: Is the 3rd WW Economic?    15th December 2011, 8:50 pm

Biggest Strategic Threat Now 'Economic'

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Source: BFBS

The head of the Armed Forces says new military alliances can help make up for shortcomings” after Britain “reduced” some of its military capabilities in last year’s Defence Review.

Giving his annual lecture to the Royal United Services institute, General Sir David Richards said Britain was still powerful in comparison to its allies, but that partnerships can extend our reach.

He also said the Afghanistan campaign is “on track” despite the Taliban trying to convince people it’s not.

General Richards opened with a warning about what really threatens Britain right now

He said: "I am clear that the single biggest strategic risk facing the UK today is economic rather than military.

"Over time a thriving economy must be the central ingredient in any UK grand strategy. This is why the eurozone crisis is of such huge importance not just to the City of London but rightly to the whole country, and to military planners like me."

He added: "The country's main effort must be the economy. No country can defend itself if bankrupt."

Gen Richards also stressed the value of forming partnerships with other nations in the face of cuts to defence budgets.

He said this was crucial to the successful operation in Libya.

"This was the Strategic Defence and Security Review's emphasis on the importance of allies playing out in front of our eyes," he said.

"Our cooperation with the French could not have been closer."

He added that integrating their Qatar, Emirates and Jordanian allies into the operation was critical.

"Libya is not a template but one key lesson for us is this need for partners.

"Our alliances, formal and informal, established and new, will help shape our military actions over the next decade," he said.

In looking to the future, Gen Richards said the armed forces must "combine realism with imagination" in terms of its spending, and admitted that it was a "risk" to allow some capabilities to be provided by others.

"But managing risk is ultimately what we do and none of us in the armed forces are discomforted by the challenge," he said.

He said for now the main effort remains Afghanistan, saying that the handover to Afghan security forces was "not a change of strategy but a change in ownership of that strategy".

He added: "Those among some of the Taliban leadership, and no doubt the few surviving members of al Qaida core, who hope they can wait us out and that a rotten fruit will fall back into their laps will be proved wrong."

Gen Richards said as the Afghan National Security Forces grew in size, the number of attacks by insurgents was decreasing.

The operation was "on track", he said, but warned of the dangers of "wrong" media coverage.
He said: "Still the Taliban can play one card.

"They operate in the world of perceptions and convince many in the UK and elsewhere to see the operation as it was, not as it is.

"Perception is lagging reality by some 18 months. While we are, like a chess player, planning three or four moves ahead we cannot signal our plans openly.

"That leaves the media frequently, and understandably, to look only at what has happened. They frequently draw the wrong conclu

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