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UK to streamline Afghan strike approval process

UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace has revealed that his ministry is working to streamline the approval process for future kinetic strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

Speaking during a Policy Exchange think-tank panel at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on 5 October, Wallace said the move was part of a new drive to create a “campaigning mindset” within the head office of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in London.

Wallace said he wanted to change the “mindset and culture” of his ministry's senior political and military leadership to facilitate rapid reaction to new threats and unexpected events. Focusing on the aftermath of the US and UK evacuation from Afghanistan in August, he said there may be a need to reach into Afghanistan to strike terrorist targets or conduct information operations there. According to Wallace, this would require “clearing away the legal permissions that we often need about kinetic operations and information operations but also diplomatic permissions so that we can share [information] with partners”.

The UK armed forces earlier had the capability to take any “necessary action” against threats in Afghanistan and Wallace said the United Kingdom would continue to invest in these capabilities, naming the Protector unmanned aerial vehicle as being a future system that could be used in Afghanistan.

Wallace acknowledged that the withdrawal of the UK and allied forces from Afghanistan was not optimal and that strikes from the outside were “never as good” as having troops alongside partners on the ground. “We will use our capabilities as necessary,” he said.

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