On 31 March,British Minister of Defence Sir Michael Fallon enumerated British military activities in Europe,the Middle East and Southwest Asia at a joint press conference with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis following their London talks:
From Afghanistan to South Sudan,our men and women are working together with our friends and allies to defend the international rules-based system,and we have no closer friend than the United States.We began today by reviewing our efforts to combat international terrorism and global extremism.In Iraq and Syria,we stand shoulder to shoulder as leading members of the counter-Daesh coalition.Today,Daesh - aka ISIL - is failing.In Iraq,Daesh is clinging to its last stronghold,though 40% of West Mosul has been liberated and hundreds of thousands are returning to their homes.*
Meanwhile,our two nations are providing reassurance to our European allies in the wake of Russian aggression.We are leading NATO's enhanced forward presence.By next week,Britain will have 800 troops in Estonia,and 150 personnel in a reconnaissance squadron serving alongside US forces in Poland.In May,we will send four RAF Typhoons to Romania as part of NATO's mission to protect the Black Sea skies.This I part of the biggest deployment in Eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War.*
The second item on our agenda was about making the NATO Alliance fitter and faster.Fairer burden-sharing is the key here.Only five members have met the two percent target,the US and the UK among them.Our defence budget in Britain is growing every year and remains the biggest in Europe;but Secretary Mattis and I have agreed that others must now raise their game;and those failing to meet their two percent commitment so far should at least agree to year-on-year real term increases.
At the end of this year,we will own 14 F-35 aircraft,and I welcome the commitment by the US to deploy F-35Bs on the HMS Elizabeth on its first operational deployment in 2021.*
On the issue of Russia having perhaps violated the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty with the United States,that is something that we think needs to be taken forward,not just by the US,but by NATO generally,once we have those violations confirmed.
There's a pattern now of interference by Russia in different parts of the globe that needs us to be,when we engage with Russia,wary of what Russia is up to,and that is why there cannot be,at the moment,any return to business as usual with Russia.We need to be extremely watchful now of this persistent pattern of Russian interference.*
We're not sending combat troops back to Afghanistan.We last year increased our troops in Afghanistan and we continue to wait for advice on the continuance of Resolute Support for 2018.As you know,we are helping staff the Officer's Academy;we assist on counterterrorism;and we are engaged in supplying the bulk of the Kabul Protection Force;but we're not planning to return back to combat in Afghanistan,UK Minister of Defence Sir Michael Fallon told journalists gathered in London for his meeting with US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.*
In the Middle East,the UK participates in the air campaign of Operation Inherent Resolve both in Iraq and Syria,as well as train,advise and assist efforts in Iraq and also Afghanistan in Southwest Asia.
Britain is as well moving to modernise its nuclear deterrent with the plan to build four new Trident II D5 ballistic missile submarines,and is building a large aircraft carrier,HMS Queen Elizabeth.