A Whitehall source has suggested ‘thousands’ of British troops presently stationed around the globe could be redeployed to home turf in a bid to improve resilience and response times to Paris-style terror attacks against the United Kingdom.
Officials are apparently concerned that while Troops stationed in London are formed into high readiness response groups prepared to assist police in the case of a terrorist attack, outside of London availability is much lower. In cities or towns outside of London it could take thirty minutes or more for the Army to deploy if needed.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the unnamed source said: “The country has a force of more than 80,000 troops and they need to be deployed where the threat is. Homeland security needs to be stepped up and as part of that we are looking at where there are gaps. We are looking at bringing back soldiers from overseas.
“The government is recognising the threat could be on British soil. Currently our high-readiness troops are ready to be deployed overseas but we need to make sure we have enough soldiers in the UK.
“We are looking at sending soldiers to cities such as Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham or having many more troops stationed in Scotland”.
The Ministry of Defence has denied the claims, saying: “There are no plans to redeploy troops from overseas to within the UK in support of domestic security measures”.
Although the establishment of high-readiness battalions in areas outside of London could improve reactionary security in the regions, Britain is hopefully unlikely to see army patrols on the streets any time soon. Although troops can assist police operations if requested, without the declaration of Martial Law the actions soldiers can take are very limited.
Although soldiers could mount patrols and present a show of force, it would remain the duty of Police marksmen to actually confront terrorists where found, as was the case in France last week.
British troops were last deployed in significant numbers on home territory during the London 2012 Olympics, to make up a shortfall left by insufficient private security, with many being directly redeployed from the Middle East. After the murder of Canadian Corporal Cirillo in the Parliament Hill terrorist attack last year, there has been an increase in armed Soldiers in London and other Western cities in anticipation of copycat attacks.