Michael Fallon PA File

British Military Should Return 'East of Suez', Sir Michael Fallon Says

The former Defence Secretary says military personnel must return to East Suez to combat rising tensions in China and North Korea.

Michael Fallon PA File

Sir Michael Fallon says the restoration of bases should come with (Picture: PA).

Former Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon says military personnel must return to East Suez to counter rising tensions in China and North Korea.

In a foreword of a new report by think tank, Policy Exchange, Sir Michael wrote that the Royal Navy has confined itself to the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas for decades and “now the fastest-growing region of the world demands our attention again".

He also wrote: "Instability on the Korean peninsula, tension over Taiwan, the competing claims in the South China Sea, and the increase in defence spending by countries such as India and Australia, all point to the need for us to contribute to the security of trading routes on which we now depend much more heavily."

But Sir Michael warned that deploying troops to the Pacific would come at a cost and the Ministry of Defence will need more money and bases to do the job: "Now my successor wants to restore bases further east and to deploy our new carriers into contested waters," he wrote.

"That should come with three obvious caveats.

"First, permanent bases cost significant money and will require a further uplift in the overall defence budget.

"Second, the Royal Navy can no longer operate on its own: freedom of navigation operations, the deployment of the carriers, overflights and exercising all need us to work in tandem with allied navies and air forces and to reflect their differing priorities.

"Third, any such strategic positioning needs to be properly thought through, right across government, to ensure that our security, military and trading interests are properly aligned."

The paper's author is Dr Alessio Patalano, one of the world’s leading experts on Indo-Pacific security.

He writes that an amphibious ship could influence security in the region by providing disaster relief and ensuring freedom of navigation. 

The paper also argues that a new UK base in Australia and access agreements to bases in Japan would aid any British presence in the Pacific.