Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Resisting Taleban 'like WWII'

John Hutton [Pic Ministry of Defence]
John Hutton is to make his first major speech as defence secretary

The need to stop Taleban control of Afghanistan is as significant as resisting Hitler's invasion of Poland, Defence Secretary John Hutton has said.

Speaking on Armistice Day he said if the Taleban won, Britain would have to face the consequences of terrorism.

"In one sense, it has the same significance as the invasion of Belgium in 1914 and the invasion of Poland in 1939," he said.

Mr Hutton also paid tribute to the UK troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He is due to give his first major speech as defence secretary, timed to coincide with Armistice Day.

'Hatred of West'

Mr Hutton said: "We all can remember, I hope, what the risk to the UK and our friends and allies was, when Afghanistan was run by the Taleban, where al-Qaeda had free reign to vent their fury and hatred of the West and the values that we represent.

"And if that were to happen again - if the Taleban were to take control of Afghanistan and al-Qaeda came back, we would have to deal with the consequences of that international terrorism.

"Not in Afghanistan, but here in London, in Birmingham, in Glasgow, in Cardiff - every major city.

The equipment that we deploy in Afghanistan and Iraq is the equipment we have been advised to deploy by our military chiefs

John Hutton, Defence Secretary

"So it is a vital national interest... the risk to our security, to our people, is clear and that is why we have to deal with it."

Mr Hutton also said servicemen and women deployed both in Afghanistan and in Iraq would be "as well protected as they can be".

He said: "I can't guarantee that no-one is going to get injured or wounded. The equipment that we deploy in Afghanistan and Iraq is the equipment we have been advised to deploy by our military chiefs."

Mr Hutton also said Snatch Land Rovers, criticised by troops for the lack of protection they offer against roadside bombs and landmines, would continue to be used in Afghanistan.

But he said 1,200 armoured vehicles will be made available in Iraq and Afghanistan by next year, to give patrols greater protection.

Mr Hutton will also be speaking at an event organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies called "Afghanistan - worth the sacrifice".

In his speech, Mr Hutton will aim to justify why British troops are in Afghanistan and why the government thinks they need to stay.

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