Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told activists the UK could still target extremists planning attacks on Britain
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Britain would launch RAF drone strikes against terrorists in Afghanistan if the war-ravaged nation once again became a haven for extremists plotting against the UK, the Defence Secretary signalled today.
Ben Wallace told Conservative activists the pullout from the country this summer would not stop Britain attacking those threatening the UK’s national security.
Al-Qaeda used Afghanistan under the shelter of the Taliban to plan the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US.
Speaking at the Tory Party conference fringe in Manchester, Mr Wallace said targets in the country could still be bombed even though the UK has no military presence in Afghanistan.
He said: “We are in a different world from 2000.
“We have capabilities now that can allow us reach from outside-in to take whatever action we have to in accordance with international law, to protect ourselves.
“It’s not optimal, it never is as good as being on the ground alongside partners, but we have those capabilities and we will use them as necessary.
“We have invested in them – part of the Defence Command Paper talked about investing in another generation of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), the Protector drones and things like that.”
He also revealed troops deployed on Operation Pitting – the mission to evacuate stranded Britons and Afghans who supported the UK during the War on Terror – in August could be handed medals.
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“On medallic recognition, I understand it’s really important, it’s a question that comes up every few years in conflicts around the world. What people did in Op Pitting was extraordinary in an extraordinary environment,” Mr Wallace, a former Scots Guards officer, told the Policy Exchange think tank event.
“Obviously we will reflect upon that.”