Hurd in troops appeal

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The Independent Online
DOUGLAS HURD, the Foreign Secretary, called on Britain yesterday to increase its commitments to international peace- keeping if it wished to remain a world power in the post-Cold War era, writes Annika Savill.

Signalling that Britain's defence planning aimed at countering the Soviet threat was no longer adequate, Mr Hurd said: 'If boils keep breaking out on the face of the world, our commitments could well increase - provided, that is, that we wish to maintain our position as a medium-sized power with a developed sense of international responsibility.'

The Foreign Secretary's speech, to the Royal United Services Institute, was a tacit call for the kind of troops to be made available which Britain is short of for peace-keeping purposes - infantry. Under the 'Options for Change' reform begun in 1990, the British army was redesigned as a balanced force with the Russian threat still in mind. But Britain's commitment to Northern Ireland stretches its infantry component, leaving few additional resources for global peace- keeping.

'Peace-keeping in the 1990s is a crucial change in direction, a crucial area of growth,' Mr Hurd said. In four years, 11 new peace- keeping operations had been authorised, compared with 13 over the previous 43 years. This year alone, the number of people deployed in UN peace-keeping operations had risen from 11,500 to 51,000. UN peace-keeping expenditure so far this year was pounds 856m, compared with pounds 429m in 1991.