UK Government ‘Overconfident’ On National Security Threats — MPs

Reuters Parliament

LONDON, Nov 21 (Reuters) – – The British government is too confident that it can predict national security threats, parliament’s defence committee said on Saturday, setting out a list of vulnerabilities and risks that need to be addressed at an upcoming defence review.

Lawmakers on the committee said that as well as handling well-known security risks, Britain needed to be able to adapt to potential threats from the resurgence of an expansionist Russia or conflict in the South and East China seas.

Britain will announce its five-year defence and security strategy on Monday against the backdrop of a severe threat of domestic attack and instability in a range of global areas from the Middle East and North Africa to Russia and central Europe.

On Nov. 13, 129 people were killed and more than 300 wounded in coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Paris claimed by militant group Islamic State.

The committee said the government’s framework for assessing national security risks was flawed because it relied too much on expected threats materialising and then tailored defence capabilities to those.

“There is overconfidence in government that it can reliably predict which threats will transpire,” said committee chairman Julian Lewis. “The SDSR (Strategic Defence and Security Review) needs to deliver a structure for the armed forces within which they can react appropriately when unforeseen threats arise.”

The government has recently set out additional spending on intelligence and cyber security and says it will soon publish a “comprehensive strategy” on how to tackle the threat of Islamic State, including why it supports launching air strikes in Syria.

But the committee flagged vulnerabilities in the training and capabilities of British armed forces to deal with such a diverse range of threats, and said the defence review would need to address difficulties in recruiting military staff.

Quoting a leaked document written by one of Britain’s most senior police officers, the BBC said on Friday that planned budget cuts to Britain’s police force may “reduce very significantly” its ability to respond to multiple militant attacks as seen in Paris last week.