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Excerpts from a speech delivered by Rt Hon Des Browne MP, Secretary of State for Defence at the Brookings Institution, Washington DC, USA, 10 July 2008, on the 50th anniversary of the Mutual Defence Agreement.

The MDA is one of the central planks of US-UK defence co-operation.

It is a collaboration that enabled the UK to contribute to the West's defence against the Soviet threat for decades. A collaboration that reinforces our mutual security, enhances deterrence and helps to keep the peace.

Always worth reminding ourselves of what a prudent Scot had to say....

The art of war, however, as it is certainly the noblest of all arts, so in the progress of improvement it necessarily becomes one of the most complicated among them. The state of the mechanical, as well as of some other arts, with which it is necessarily connected, determines the degree of perfection to which it is capable of being carried at any particular time.

Defence Secretary Des Browne today paid another visit to Afghanistan his seventh and he gave an interview to BBC radio which doesn't seem to have appeared elsewhere. We are pleased to bring you these highlights:

Shaun Ley, presenter: The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, is on a visit to British troops in Helmand province. He's on the line from there now. Mr Browne, good afternoon.

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