British Prime Minister David Cameron was to give a major speech on how
he plans to tackle the menace of Islamic extremism. Photo / AP
Britain must accept that “sooner or later” ground troops and tanks
will have to be sent into combat to overcome Isis a former chief of the
Armed Forces has said.
Lord Richards said Prime Minister David
Cameron had to get the country on a “war footing” and rethink its
military strategy to extinguish the threat posed by Isis (Islamic State)
He said that “tanks would have to roll and there’s
going to have to be boots on the ground”, as he took a swipe at the
existing approach, describing it as “dribbling, not clouting”.
strategy against Isis, based on training Iraqi forces and moderate
Syrian rebels was “woefully insufficient”, Richards said. He made the
intervention as the Prime Minister prepared to warn today that the fight
against extremism is now the “struggle of our generation”.
was to give a major speech on how he plans to tackle the menace of
Islamic extremism after giving the clearest signal yet that Britain will
officially join air strikes against targets inside Syria.
Cameron said he wanted Britain to “do more” to destroy Isis
and hinted he would soon ask Parliament to authorise strikes in Syria,
in addition to the British air campaign already under way in Iraq.
Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, was today expected to explain to MPs
why British pilots embedded with the US military are already flying
bombing raids inside the country, despite a clear parliamentary vote
against action in Syria.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show,
Richards said: “The current strategy won’t work in the time I think
we’ve got available. The current strategy is essentially one of
equipping and training others to do the hard stuff for us. I think that
could work, but the scale of effort going into it is woefully
insufficient.” He added: “If we really want to get rid of them … we
need to effectively get on a war footing.”
Richards said he
“utterly agreed” with the Prime Minister that Isis had to be removed,
because their self-styled Caliphate was acting as “a lure and an
attraction on all those others that may just be tempted to do things
that we all abhor”.
If the existing strategy, with no British and
allied troops on the front line, was not effective within a year, “then
I think we need to look at it again”, he said. “Properly brought
together with proper leadership and proper command and control it is a
very doable proposition. But I worry that – what we call in the Army
‘dribbling’ instead of ‘clouting’ – if we dribble, which is really
rather what we are doing at the moment, it is simply firing up the
problem rather than dealing with it.” Asked if sooner or later, ground
troops would be needed on the front line, he said: “I suspect my bones
are telling me that.”
However, any escalation of Britain’s
commitment in Syria is sure to meet resistance. Cameron’s indication he
wanted Britain to join air strikes in Syria led one senior Tory MP to
accuse him of making up his policy “on the hoof”.
the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, called on the Prime
Minister to present a more considered strategy to Parliament.
his speech on tackling extremism, Cameron would today say in Birmingham
that society must first understand what makes extremist ideology so
attractive, before it can be defeated.
He was to set out new
measures the Government would take over the next five years to try to
stop alienated and isolated young people being drawn to the extremists’
“sick world view”.