tv British Defense Secretary on NATO Alliance CSPAN August 8, 2018 2:58pm-4:04pm EDT
>> good morning everyone. and welcome to the atlantic council. my name is jim jones. i'm the interim chairman of the atlantic council and i do some work with the center as well, been a big fan of the council for many many years and honored to be here especially for this very very great day. we are pleased to welcome the secretary of state for defense of the u.k., the right honorable gavin williamson. mr. secretary, welcome to washington. there's no secret in this room about the fact that the u.s., u.k. relationship has for many many years been the anchor of the transatlantic relationship. since world war ii. my own experience with the u.k. has to do more with the royal marines, which i have had many
many great expeditions with around the world, and we have a very tight relationship as does our navy, our air forces and our army. we are more than allies. we are friends. and we share common values, common purposes, and we think the same way. react to the threats that face us the same way. these are crucial times that we live in. the 21st century has announced itself as a messy century full of different centers of gravity, big change in what defines national security, more than just about armies, navies and air forces and marine corps but also what defines as a people, our economic strength, our culture, and the rule of law. those several things working together hopefully will lead
towards a peaceful world. in europe, our friends in europe are challenged by a russia that is increasingly disruptive in what it seeks to do. that has had the effect of revitalizing ally defense spending, military modernization, and readiness in what is the most important alliance in the world, and that's the north atlantic treaty organization. the nato summit originally concluded -- recently concluded despite the headlines was in fact a very good summit that delivered quite a few important conclusions and set the alliance on a good path towards combatting the threats that face us.
it provides leadership in the region, troops in afghanistan for many years and so on. the u.s. and the u.k. have been shoulder to shoulder for many years. sharing these defense and security priorities. we are pleased to welcome the secretary of state williamson. he was appointed in 2017. the position of great responsibility going all the way , from strategy, to acquisition, to operational deployments. in 2016, he was honored to be named commander of the order of the british empire. today we hear from our guest, and we will have a
>> today we hear from our guest and they we will have a conversation with 23rd secretary of the air force, the honorable deborah lee jones who is here today. she's a distinguished fellow of the atlantic council and also a board director of the atlantic council. following that discussion, we will have an opportunity for you to engage with the state secretary, and this entire session will be on the record. you are encouraged to join the conversation on twitter, tweet using hashtag stronger with allies, and we are indeed stronger with allies. mr. secretary, we welcome you to the atlantic council and the floor is yours. >> thank you. [applause] >> well, it's an enormous privilege to be here today. i must begin by thanking the
atlantic council for hosting this event. i'm always told that washington in august is not a way at its best so you must be hardened inhabitants of its great city. the reputation of the atlantic council preseeds it. -- precedes it. the list of famous alumni is a who's who of the great and good of washington. colin powell, a list that goes all the way back to the formation in 1961. in fact, you couldn't have formed a more timely moment. one year before the cuban missile crisis, history doesn't record what role the atlantic council played at that time but i have no doubt that the wise council of some of your members.
judging by the outcome, it was clearly good advice. today the insights of your experts are just as important as we seek to navigate a rapidly changing world. as we seek to adapt and harness change. and work together to seize the opportunities which change brings. we need that type of dynamic creative thinking because i know that many people in this city are nervous about the rapidly-changing politics, the rise of new powers and the moving plates of global politics. people still worry about brexit and what role britain will play in the world. no one should worry. for while britain is leaving the
european union, we are clear about our role and place in the world. we will remain a nation that champions those fundamental values of freedom, democracy, and tolerance. we will remain a global trading nation, and we will remain a global force for good. always committed to strengthening our international security and prosperity. and brexit, brexit is britain's moment. britain's moment to look up, be more ambitious, redefine our place in the world. in some ways, the european union has limited our vision, discouraged us from looking to the horizon. now we are being free to reach further and aim higher. the u.k. is determined to seize
these new opportunities. my job as defense secretary is to make sure that we can develop and if necessary deploy hard power, which underpins the soft power of our global influence. we start from the strongest of foundations. britain is a major global actor. we have always been a tier one military power, and we will always be a tier one military power, possessing an independent nuclear deterrent, world class special forces, and cyber capabilities, exceptional conventional forces, able to deploy independently around the globe, and take command of coalition forces to live -- to deliver joint outcomes. but we also agree with the united states national defense
strategy, that by working together with allies and partners, we have the greatest possible strength for the long-term advancement of our interests. after all, we need international solutions to international problems. in the past few years, we've seen global terror hit our streets on both sides of the atlantic. at the same time, we've witnessed increased competition between states, a terror-sponsoring iran, a nuclear-armed north korea, not forgetting to mention a rising china. an increasingly aggressive russia, using every weapon at its disposal to advance its
interests, a russia whose use of covert operations and cyber warfare, political subversion and increased military posturing is part of a wider pattern of malign behavior. who would have thought a year ago that we would have seen in the united kingdom, in a sleepy cathedral town, in the middle of the english countryside, the use of chemical weapons, the first use of chemical weapons in europe since the second world war. it demonstrates the fact that the dangers are diversifying, with states adopting the tactics of terrorists and terrorists increasingly armed with more and more sophisticated weapons, including cyber capabilities,
all blurring the lines between peace and conflict. it's clear, we're in a new age of intertwined dangers, and it is getting ever more complex. so it is even more important that we stand together with our allies. i'm not here to give you a history lesson. but some of you may be aware that in the 1770s we were having a little bit of local difficulty in this area. in 1778, the last british governor of new york wrote to george washington, it was the moment that we were about to vacate the city, and he wrote, the recent hostilities have been regrettable, but as we withdraw,
we do so in the hope that our two nations will build on a common heritage and act together to the betterment of the world. all those years ago, those words are so very very true. we have no stronger ally than the united states. and there's a reason so many have called our relationship special. for more than 100 years, our armed forces have fought in defense of our common values and interests. from the turmoil of the great war, through the dark days of world war ii, from the heat of korea to the chill of a cold war, from the mountains of afghanistan and the deserts of iraq today, we have developed the deepest, broadest, and most
advanced defense relationship of any two nations. the united states has never had nor will have a more reliable ally than great britain. others may pretend, but you will find no greater ally than us. and to those who prefer to dismiss what the u.k. can do, i have one message, we stand with you ready, willing and able to meet the challenges of the 21st century. our appetite, our desire, our will to be a force for change, a force for good, a force of light that stands as a beacon to the world that burns more brightly today than it has in the last 70 years, that is what great britain is. let me explain what i mean in more detail. first, we are ready to respond
to any situation. at a moment's notice, we have forward deployed forces across the globe. we can draw on our overseas territories in gibraltar, cypress, the islands, the british indian ocean territories, these often provide key facilities, not just for us, but also for the united states. and we're extending our presence with our new naval base in bahrain. we can also bring in allies other than the u.s. as and when required. such as our nine nation giant expedition force of like-minded northern european nations, which can muster up to 10,000 personnel to respond to any type of operation. from humanitarian assistance through to high end war fighting, above all, our
readiness comes from having world class personnel, the embodiment of our global britain, our great britain. more than 14,000 personnel deployed on operations around the globe. with 19,000 preparing to deploy or at readiness to respond. currently they are in the north atlantic commanding and directing antisubmarine warfare operations, keeping an eye on the undersea cables that underpin our on-line systems. they are on the eastern fringes of europe too, supporting nato's deterrence against a resurgent russia, policing the black sea, the baltic and icelandic skies and leading nato's presence in estonia. in march, i visited our troops close to the estonian border
with russia. i was struck but not surprised by how many locals still saw britain as a liberator and protector. willing to stand up for their freedom as we have so often done in the past. our people are not just in estonia, they are in poland too, proudly operating side by side with a u.s. group. it underlines the ever increasing integration of our forces who serve and train together regularly, so they can fight together seamlessly. you see, this integration between our armies, from battle group through brigade, division to corps, you see it between our air forces and our navies, and you see it between your u.s. marines, who i have the privilege of seeing in action at their famous sunset parades
later today and of course as was mentioned our royal marine commandos. in recent months, u.s. marines and our marines have been exercising alongside one another in the baltic, in guam, developing new ways of operating in an information age, and they will be working together as part of the marine expeditionary force headquarters on exercise juncture in norway, later on this year. being ready is only one thing, but the united kingdom has that essential willingness, a willingness to act, the willingness to use military force when other measures fail, the willingness to operate where others cannot or will not go. look at the way u.k. pilots
joined the u.s. counterparts to strike assad's chemical facilities after the appalling chemical attacks in duma. look at our operations targeting isil in iraq and syria, conducting more than 1700 strikes against terrorist targets, training more than 77,000 iraqi security forces and infantry skills, counter ied, engineering and medical expertise, and providing the second most significant contribution to the military campaign, after the united states. the u.k. is not just in the middle east. we're in afghanistan, training a new generation of officers to secure their fledgling democracy and by committing a second battalion to go to kabul. we're demonstrating a continued commitment to afghanistan and the afghan people.
we're also in the indo pacific where we led the way by deploying royal naval ships to be the first nation to enforce united nations sanctions against north korea, and where we're maintaining a presence of royal navy service competence throughout this year and next, increasing our presence around the globe. and when it comes to china, we have our eyes wide open. we have a positive relationship with beijing and wish to build on that. but we will not shrink from telling them when we feel that they do not respect the commonly accepted rules and norms of international behavior, the laws and systems by which we all, china included, benefit and have a duty to protect. in this respect, their
militarization and artificial features in the south china sea is a backwards step and puts them on the wrong side of the line of what people expect from great international nations. if you wish to be respected as a global power, you have to respect the international norms and behaviors that bind the international community together. and from the continent of asia to africa, i just returned from mogadishu in somalia and also having had the opportunity to visit ethiopia and kenya where i have seen first-hand the excellent work of u.k. forces training, stopping terrorists and helping bring stability. we're providing our french allies with strategic chinooks. let's be clear we are the only power in europe with the capacity and the capability to
do that. and in south sudan, our people have built a united nations hospital, bringing vital aid in the midst of an awful humanitarian crisis. whether the danger is near or far, whether we're acting unilaterally, bilaterally or multilaterally, the u.k. continues stepping up. i have already touched on our nato efforts, but since i'm at the atlantic council, i hope you will permit me to say a few more words in support of the alliance. for it's worth remembering that european nations are not its sole beneficiary. the only time that article v has ever been invoked was after 9/11, when great britain and other nato nations stood side by side with you after the
atrocities that we saw. just as the united kingdom helps the united states shoulder the burden of international security, so does nato. it is providing a majority of forces for the alliance's new iraq mission. european allies lead nato's 40,000 strong response force. they are responsible for 85% of the mission in the balkans and at the most recent summit, allies agreed a readiness initiative, within the next 18 months, to have 30 mechanized battalions, 30 combat vessels, and 30 air squadrons, ready to use in 30 days. alongside the u.s., the u.k. has been pressing for the alliance to do more, to pay its way. we're now seeing the results. last year i saw nato's biggest
spending increase in 25 years. since making the defense investment pledge of 2014 summit, allies have spent 87 billion dollars more on defense. in just two years' time, that number will increase to at least 150 billion dollars. four years ago, only three allies spent 2% of their gdp on defense. by the end of this year, eight will meet that target, and increasingly we are seeing more partners pull their weight realizing that they have got to spend more because of the increasing threats that the world faces. they are investing in capabilities essential and relevant to modern warfare, making sure that they have the best equipment and the very best technology. so the u.k. is ready. we're willing.
but what makes us reliable partners for the long-term is the fact that we are able, able to act now and far in the future. thanks to our world class defense technology and industrial base, some mistakenly believe that only america can develop cutting-edge technologies or capabilities. that has never been and never will be the case. the u.k. has always brought something special to the table. from the perilous days of the second world war, when an unassuming british scientist flew to the united states taking with him a black box containing the secrets of airborne radar and turbo jet, and from then right up until today, the u.k. is the biggest offshore supplier
to the u.s. military, with the skills to meet a host of your requirements, vehicle communications to military bridging and cbrm. that's why 60 years on from the signing of the mutual defense agreement, we continue to cooperate on nuclear technology. there can sure be in greater sign of trust in our willingness to work together on a common missile compartment for our marines and your u.s. marines. and that's why u.k. is a tier one partner on f-35 one of the biggest equipment programs of them all, with the u.k. producing 15% of every aircraft built, bringing unique british made capabilities into development of this stealth fighter. with the arrival of our new
65,000 turn aircraft carrier hms queen elizabeth to the east coast, we take another step towards that day in 2021, where the u.s. marine corps alongside our own and for the first time we watch a fifth generation aircraft fly from the world's first fifth generation carrier. in other words, a vibrant u.k. defense industry spurring healthy competition, this is very much in our shared interests. why reinvent the wheel when you can buy from a trusted partner? it's a two-way street. you invest in us, and we invest in you. today we're procuring more than 50 types of defense equipment from the united states, including maritime patrol
aircraft to apache attack helicopters to drones, all the while, u.k. industry is creating u.s. jobs. u.k. defense companies employ more than 56,000 staff in the united states, with u.k. businesses employing more than a million u.s. employees. we are helping fund programs collectively supporting the livelihoods of 160,000 americans. the u.k. is one of only a handful of trusted partners to be included within the national technology industrial base initiative, which is looking at sharing ideas, achieving better value for money, and making global supply chains more resilient so we can sustain our military advantage in the future. we must take maximum advantage of this to create the jobs, the prosperity, that both the u.k. and the u.s. need.
but the u.k. also combines world class capability with strategic long-term ambition. this year our world famous royal air force celebrated its 100th birthday. far from dwelling on the glory years of the fighter or the lancaster bomber, we have unveiled a new combat air strategy to build the next generation of fighters. no wonder today our great nations together continue pushing the boundaries of innovation, working on robots that can brave the last mile of the battlefield, on cyber tools to deter, disrupt and constrain malicious activity. in may, it was my privilege to host a meeting between u.s. and u.k. innovation experts, designed to strengthen our cooperation still further.
we're now running a u.k. u.s. funded competition, seeking innovative technologies to destroy chemical and biological munitions, ied's, and bulk agents in challenging environments. we're investigating new ways to transform the famously convoluted acquisition process, leaping between research and procurement, rapidly developing technologies and state of the art software and developing a cutting-edge chemical weapons defense center. so the united kingdom is ready, willing, and able to act when necessary. and our modernizing defense program will make sure you can continue to rely on us far into the future. it sets out our vision for dealing with a complex challenges of the 21st century.
it will give us a lethal fighting force, matching the pace at which our adversaries can now move in every domain from nuclear and conventional to hybrid threats. while strengthening our resilience in an information age, to achieve what we're calling information advantage. it will make sure international cooperation is built into our dna, deepening our relationships across the globe and seeing how we can further rebalance our global posture to be ready and willing to fight in mainland europe, in the middle east, or in the far east. and our program will transform our defense business, speeding up our processes and bridging the gap between the e mer jebs -- emergence and adoption of new technologies. the next phase is all about delivery. but we will continue seeking the views of our close pentagon colleagues and the brilliant
minds in this room to shape and refine our plans. so we may be entering a more unpredictable and uncertain age, but i'm profoundly optimistic, optimistic about our future. the united kingdom remains a great power, a country with one of the world's biggest economies, a creative powerhouse, a force for good, and we continue having one of the most credible armed forces anywhere on the planet, a force that will continue using its power, hard and soft, in concert with our greatest ally, the united states. we will always be the most natural of partners together. 30 years ago, ronald reagan gave a great speech to the annual meeting of the atlantic council.
he spoke. he spoke of his hopes between east and west. he spoke of being for freedom and democracy without hesitation or apology. and he quotes the words of that great anglo-american winston churchill, where we are able to stand together and work together for righteous causes, we shall always be thankful and the world will always be free. so let us seize this moment to strengthen our transatlantic ties, in the face of an ever greater unpredictability. let us show our certainty in being ready, willing and able to act as that great of international peace and prosperity. and let us do everything in our power to make sure those great
anglo-american values prevail, those values of liberty, justice, and democracy, the magna carte and your constitution. they represent more than just the souls of our nation, but they are the cornerstone of a western world, but please, never never underestimate my nation. as we have changed the world time and time and time again, and we will change the world in the future, for we as a nation, when we realize that it is in our interest, or when it is right, we as a nation always act. thank you. [applause]
>> thank you very very much, mr. secretary for that very comprehensive address. you have given us a lot of food for thought, many topics to explore. we appreciate you being with us at the atlantic council here today. so if i may, i would like to follow up on some of those topics, and then we will open it up because i know our audience is also most anxious to have the conversation with you. let's begin with a little bit more about the nato summit, and as general jones said, there really were quite a few important deliverables out of that summit although it somewhat got lost in the headlines. for example, there were developments designed to focus on alliance readiness, creating a new cyber command, mobility, a command structure reform. there were many good developments. my question is, how will the u.k. play a leadership role in some of these initiatives going forward? what will your role be? >> if we take cyber as a good example, we are the only nation
that so far dedicated our cyberattack capabilities to nato encouraging other nations to do the same, but we also play an important role in terms of being the glue of nato, of actually obviously the united states will always bring the enormous size and enormous amount of resources to it but actually encouraging and bringing other nations into participating into operations and into exercises, reinforcing the message that every nation, no matter what their size, where they are within nato plays an important role, and that's not just in terms of the defense of the continent, but also in terms of other nato operations. you see a lot of benefits of that, whether it's in iraq, the increasing role that nato plays and the fact that actually we often act as one of those nations that encourages other nations to take part, but also in afghanistan, where there's so many nato partners, so many nato
nations. going to afghanistan, understanding the importance that afghanistan plays, not just to the region, but actually to the whole world, and we can play a vital role in doing that, but also leading by example, investing in our military, making sure that we have the best capabilities, not just in terms of mass of numbers, but actually just as importantly the right technology and the right equipment in order to be able to fight. >> that is actually a great segue to the second topic -- >> this wasn't planned. >> i wanted to ask you about your modernizing defense program, which of course has strategy elements. there are budget implications, but this is essentially your road map for the future of how you would invest against the various threats that we collectively face. and so my question to you is,
understanding that it is not fully completed, could you give us an update on where it stands, how are the budget discussions going, and i would note that there was a recent u.k. house of commons defense report that indicated that 2% is fantastic, and you have been there for years, but 3% would be a lot better for the threats that you're facing. could you comment on that as well? >> so in terms of cash, and i sort of take it quite conservative view in terms of cash, i don't think you should start off really always with -- what you should look at what are the threats? what do you need to deal with those threats? what type of capabilities a nation needs to have and then invest in them and the price comes out at the end of it. that's what we're doing in terms of modernizing the defense program, looking at the threats we face. when we did a similar review in 2010, we said we didn't believe
there were any state-based threats. in 2015, when we looked around the world, we said that we thought russia was an emerging threat, but we weren't 100% person as to which way it would break. i think that the experiences that the world has seen since 2015 is quite clearly a threat to not just great britain, not just continental europe, to many nations around the world. and so what we're doing is taking the opportunity to think what are those capabilities to deal with those threats and what is the price for doing that. that's what we hope to come up with. but there's also thinking about how we do our armed forces better. traditionally, when we've looked at programs, we've seen programs that have lasted from an inception to the delivery of a product, sometimes not just four or five years, not just 10, 12 years, but sometimes 15 or 20 years. that isn't going to be acceptable in this ever-changing
world, where technology moves so quickly. we've got to be able to have the technology that, you know, and the innovation in order to be able to adapt, and that is of course having the most high-tech platforms, but the ability to change those high-tech platforms, but what is the most high-tech this year, by next year is not going to be the most high-tech. so creating the open architecture to be able to upgrade constantly innovate on the equipment that we have. but not losing sight that there is a certain quality to mass, and we shouldn't always be going for purely the most exquisite. we need to have the ability to be able to field numbers. we've got to be able to have presence around the globe. and we've got to be in a position where we don't just constantly sort of get things that are ever more expensive, but smaller and smaller number of them. so that's the sort of broad
push. but the world is getting so much more unpredictable, and if britain cannot play a role, if britain doesn't have the ability and the means to project our will and be able to influence decisions and events, then, you know, that's something that i think the british people and british politicians are not comfortable with, and we recognize soft power is so important, the work we do through diplomacy, the work we do through development aid, cultural influences, all vital, but behind that, there always has to sit hard power and making sure we get that hard power right, effective and deployable, and we have always proven to be a nation that's been willing to deploy and willing to fight. >> would you say we could expect to know more about the modernization program in the fall, and would you have any
sneak previews for us about areas of investment that might get particular notice? >> so in the first part of your question, before the end of this year, and second part of your question, i'm afraid no. >> i kind of figured, but i figured i'd try. >> we love a trier. >> you mentioned brexit. obviously we're watching that very closely here on this side of the atlantic and you talked about how the alliance would remain firm no matter what happens on brexit. >> yes. >> but i'm wondering about defense spending particularly. there's been speculation that with brexit, there could come increased pressures in a negative way for defense spending. is that a worry to you? are you feeling that within your discussions within parliament? >> let's be totally clear. britain leaving the european union has no impact in terms of the security and defense of europe. britain has been involved in the defense and security of europe not just for the last years, not
just since the second world war, but literally for centuries, since henry the eighth involvement and many other kings and queens both before and since and britain will be integral to the defense of continental europe. our interests are for secure and stable continent. our interests are to make sure that security in europe is absolutely guaranteed, and the greatest guarantor of that security is the north atlantic treaty organization. that is what has brought stability and security to continental europe over the last 69 years, more than any other organization. >> uh-huh. let me now swing to the middle east which of course you spoke of afghanistan, syria, iraq. obviously i think in syria, the
there are major questions remaining about the future of syria. i think most people would say iraq has evolved in a positive way, and then there's afghanistan which i think many people have questions about, where are we going and how will it all work out? you have recently put more troops into afghanistan. you've been a key partner throughout it all. would you just share your thoughts about where are we collectively going, our joint interests in these three countries? >> so if we take iraq and syria, and you are right to say that great progress has been made in iraq. i remember at a time of the intervention, first in iraq, most people said that it was going to be impossible to actually make a difference, to push back isil, literally from the gates of baghdad. but that is what has been achieved, led by the united states with local partners, but also with international allies, such as the united kingdom and france, and we have been able to push isil back, reduce their territory, degrade them in what they are able to do.
we should be immensely proud of that. but we've also got to be realistic because while the threats have been reduced, it still remains there and it is dispersing, and the idea that there will be one moment where isil and its poisonous ideology is dead forever, that sadly not something that i think anyone will truly be able to achieve. what it does mean to say that nations such as britain and the united states have constantly got to be engaged in terms of that fight, making sure that they don't get such a foothold that they were able to get in iraq and syria, and that fight will continue, and it might be in different realms, and it might be in different areas, but we've got to continue doing that. but in terms of afghanistan, i think we are at a moment, a moment where there is an opportunity to reach out where there could be a longer-lasting peace.
and we have consistently seen different actors play a role in afghanistan, whether that is pakistan, whether that is iran or whether that is russia, it has incredibly porous borders and as a very wise person once told me, unless you can seal the borders it is very difficult to be able to deal with an insurgency, but we have got to commit to doing more to give afghanistan this moment where there's an opportunity of some reconciliation, the opportunity of a political process to start moving forward. i think we're duty-bound as nations to support the afghan government, to give them that chance to make that hope a reality, and it will be interesting, the next few years will determine as to whether that is going to be the case, but it will be incredibly great if that's something we can achieve >> thank you, mr. secretary. what i would like to do now is invite our audience to participate in the conversation. we do have roving microphones,
so please wait until the microphone comes to you when i call upon you and also please be quite succinct with your questions. yes, sir, right here, second row. >> thank you. tom watkins. the thrust of your speech sir seemed to be aimed at convincing your u.s. counterparts that britain is still a partner to rely on, given the difficulties of the brexit negotiations. my question, sir, is how much can britain rely on america, especially given president trump's disdain for international partnerships and his withdrawal from the iran deal? thank you. >> what you see is a united states that is incredibly committed to nato, that has deployed and put more resources into the defense of nato over the last two, three years than we've seen over the last 20
years. and i say you judge a nation on their actions, and that is what the united states has been doing. and the u.s. has been the most reliable partners for us and many other nations, and i have no doubt that that will continue, and that will continue to grow. and defense is a brilliant example of the depth of that relationship. so many british service personnel working side by side together, making sure that the world is a much more peaceful place, and you are seeing that level of commitment, not degraded, but actually stepped up over the last few years. >> so i'm going to go up here, the gentleman about midway back. >> foreign policy intern at cato. two part question, one follow-up on that one. how does the u.k. plan on balancing in regards to the iran
deal, its obligations to the deal itself, versus the sanctions that were reimplemented yesterday? and my second question, does the u.k. have any concerns in its defense relationship with saudi arabia in the context of the situation in yemen? >> so first on the iran deal, we really encourage the united states along with all nations to get around the table and start discussing about actually how we have something that can work. it was a deal that we felt was the best possible deal that was achievable. none of us ever pretended it was a perfect deal, but actually it did deliver a number of important, important measures that i think everyone benefits from. so we really just encourage the united states to start talking to its partners and iran in order to able to find a route
forward. saudi has been a longstanding traditional allies of the u.k. and they will remain a longstanding ally of ours going forward. the amount of work that we do, whether dealing with counterterrorism, when we're dealing with instability in terms of, you know, strength as an industrial partner and as an ally is something that we value greatly and we see that going forward for many years hence. >> i saw this gentleman's hand first, right over here. >> thank you, steve winters, independent consultant. general jones mentioned strategy as one of your areas, and you briefly alluded to the u.s. national security strategy. my question is, what is your view of the role of grand strategy as opposed to -- i mean, it appears that china has announced a grand strategy, and is there still a role for grand strategy coming from the west or nato?
>> i think that's an excellent question, and it's a very challenging question because i think that the debates about grand strategy among nato partners, among the west, among our friends and allies, there's not enough talk about it. where is the world going to be, not just in ten years time? but actual any the next 50 years time when my daughters are becoming old ladies? you know, you want to be having that conversation because if we do not have that conversation, if we do not start planning for it, we will be unprepared for it. the one thing you do see with a nation such as china, they do have that grand strategy. they have that plan for the future, and we have to deliver that as well. and we have to be thinking about actually how we make sure that china plays an important valuable and positive role on the world stage. that's something that i believe that they want to do. they want to see themselves in
playing that role, and part of our grand strategy will be to encourage them and deliver them into that positive world role. but yes, all western governments need to spend a lot longer, and it was something that former foreign secretary once said to me, they said so often they would go to these summits and would talk about what was happening today, what was happening next week, what was happening in the here and now, and yet sometimes only in the evening, over dinner, they would start to talk about what the world will look like and how you adapt, where the value would be spending a day, two days, a week, discussing it and starting to come up with those ideas and working on that, and i think that is a weakness of the west. and we have to deal with it, and we have to deal with it soon and quickly. >> the lady in the third row here.
>> elaine, associate director of uac. thank you, sir, very much for your important address to us today. i would like to ask you, how regarding the u.k.'s understanding of russia's both physical, chemical and cyberattacks that have gone on throughout the world, the chemical being in england, as you stated, how do you see the u.k. now role as a member of leading member of nato, address this possibly with the ukraine to counter russia's aggression? thank you. >> the best form of -- best way of avoiding any type of conflict is deterrence and making sure
that nato has the right level of deterrence across its borders, to make sure that russia understands that it cannot get away with impunity if it acts in an improper way such as it did in salisbury. in terms of ukraine, it is very important that we send those consistent messages to the ukrainian people in terms of our support, our help, in terms of the assistance that we have, not just britain but many other nations have been giving the ukrainians in making it clear to russia that they need to be part of the solution to crew -- to ukraine, encouraging the withdrawal of russian forces of crimea and the ending of the effective -- you know, the troubles and the violence. russia has to understand through regime that we put in place in
terms of sanctions that there is a consequence to the actions as they have undertaken in the ukraine. >> sir, how are you? good to see you, madam secretary. i have a two-part question. earlier the u.k. has invested in front line capability, for example aircraft carriers, cutting edge combat aircraft, the numbers are still in debate, so i think a former air force secretary would like to know what some of those acquisition numbers are going to be. the concern is, that these forces are so small and they are so -- units are so expensive, they will be too dear to risk and lose. that's a question for example for the aircraft carrier. historically great powers have been willing to expend resources but now the debate and the concern is that the systems themselves are so expensive, they will be hard to risk.
second question is, would the united kingdom be willing to risk in a major power conflict, where 20% of the fleet was lost in order to achieve the mission -- lost or damaged, in the case of type 31, what does type 31 look like now that there's a pause? thank you. >> in terms of exquisite technology, you make a valid point, and i touched on it briefly about the fact that you need to have the blend of both the top end, the most capable, the most exquisite of technologies but also utility as well. and that's what we're trying to achieve because we do need to have mass in terms of our armed forces. we do need to have mass in terms of both the land, sea, and air realms. and you raise an interesting point. people doubted that britain
would act in order to regain our sovereignty and we did act. and we would act again. there is never going to be a moment that we allow another country to invade our territory and take it from us. and we lost a lot of ships. and at the time, there was a class of ship called the 22, and it was very capable ship. it was a very utility ship, and we lost a number of type 22s in part of that conflict, but actually many came back, and a lot of them continued to serve until quite recently and played an important and vital role in the royal navy. that's why we're introducing the type 31. we're proceeding it with, a slight pause, but it is going to be underway. we need those type 31s because we realize and understand we need to have the mass that is required in our royal navy in
order to be able to those points of presence right across the globe because as i say, let's not underestimate what we can and what we do achieve with our royal navy. our navy was the first one to enforce sanctions against north korea. we were the first navy to start interdicting ships. we continuously right around the globe continue to have that presence of the top end, top quality type of technology, such as the type 45 destroyers, the queen elizabeth aircraft carrier to be joined by hms prince of wales that will be soon finished. we need those capabilities, but we do also recognize we need the
mass, and we recognize that actually our fleet, our armed forces are there to act in order to protect our national interests, but also to protect our global values as well. >> one more question, and then we will do a quick wrap-up. we'll give the final say to the secretary. yes, the lady right there in the fourth row. >> hi. national defense magazine. to what extent does the u.k. plan to work with u.s. aerospace firms? >> well, very closely, but we have a great tradition of producing the best fighters in the world. and we have a great tradition of having that national sovereign capability. and we are never going to be wanting to surrender that. but in terms of actually working with international partners, we're very open to it. we're very open to other companies coming in and being part of what is initially a
coalition between four companies and the ministry of defense which is bau systems, leonardo, an italian business and bda, a weapons business that is anglo-french and rolls-royce as well. we're very open to as we develop the ideas, we develop concept for other nations and other businesses come becoming part of -- other businesses becoming part of that con sor shum -- consortium. we're very confident we can produce the world's best fighter aircraft and something that i very much hope the u.s. air force will be looking to buy in the future. [laughter] >> you do tend to be a tad protectionist on these matters, though. [laughter] >> mr. secretary, this has been an insightful conversation. we're very appreciative of your spending the time with us. let me offer you any final
words. >> there's always probably a great value put to the word special relationship in the united kingdom, and i hope there's a value putting the united states to that special relationship. but before i had the privilege of doing this job, i don't think i truly understood the depth of relationship of what we do every single day between our armed forces. i don't think anyone can truly comprehend the closeness, the cooperation, the working together, the friendships and the relationships that have built up, and there can be probably no greater way than actually creating a relationship, creating that bond when two nations so much rely on one another, when there are u.s. service personnel and u.k. service personnel literally fighting side by side. that is something that is
incredibly special, something that is incredibly unique, and something that creates such a deep bond. and that precious relationship is something that as a politician, you want to ensure that you leave stronger and bigger and better than the relationship that you inherited, and i very much hope i can play a small role in doing that. >> well said. please join me in thanking u.k. secretary gavin williamson. >> thank you. >> thank you. [applause] ::