Hoon to unveil plan for rapid response forces

War on terrorism
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Indy Politics

Britain is likely to retrain units of its forces for "stiletto attacks" in response to the 11 September terrorist attacks.

The reinforcements to existing forces for quick deployment would also provide an added cutting edge to the proposed 60,000-strong European rapid reaction force.

The US and British forces are considering carrying out quick "stiletto" raids against countries suspected of harbouring al-Qa'ida cells including Somalia, Sudan and the Yemen, although there is general European opposition to extending the war against terror beyond Afghanistan.

Geoff Hoon, the Secretary of State for Defence, is due to outline his plans for the units in a speech on the Strategic Defence Review tomorrow.

Turkey's long-running threat to obstruct the EU's military ambitions should be officially withdrawn within days, after British and American diplomats offered Ankara new assurances over the creation of the EU rapid reaction force. The Turks were concerned that the force might be used in and around the Aegean or Cyprus.

However, the agreement still needs the approval of EU ministers and, in particular, of Turkey's military rival, Greece.

News of a deal with Turkey yesterday boosted the Ministry of Defence's drive for reform in the army. Mr Hoon believes that rapid and mobile forces are now needed to fight the type of "asymmetric war" now taking place in Afghanistan.

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