…except in the UK

While global military spending seemed recession proof as it continued its upward climb in 2009 (see previous post), fiscal reality has finally closed in on the UK in 2010 – and the Ministry of Defence will not escape the consequences.

Military spending is to be cut by 8 per cent (well short of the average of a 19 per cent cut across all departments)[i] over the next four years.[ii] All the services – Air Force, Army, and Navy – are to see significant cuts, as will civilian staff. Notably, the final decision on the long-planned renewal of Trident nuclear forces has been put off to 2016, and in the meantime there will be a reduction of nuclear warheads from 160 to 120.

Commentators and analysts have been largely critical of a process that has reduced defence policy making to a budget making exercise, but the Guardian singled out the changes to the nuclear deployments as part of the good news: “CND [the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] welcomed [Prime Minister Cameron’s] decision to reduce Britain’s stockpile of nuclear weapons by 25%. The delay in the decision to start construction of new submarines to replace the Vanguard class which carry the Trident nuclear deterrent is also welcome – but only as a precursor to scrapping these weapons, which even Tony Blair now acknowledges can never be used independently.”[iii]



[i] Thomas Penny and Gonzalo Vina, “Osborne to Slash Jobs, Tax Banks in U.K. Budget Cuts,” Bloomberg, 20 Oct0ber, 2010. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-20/osborne-pledges-8-billion-reduction-in-u-k-debt-costs-amid-spending-cuts.html.

[ii] “Defence review at-a-glance,” BBC News, 19 October 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574573.  Richard Norton-Taylor, “Strategic defence review means end of Iraq-scale military interventions,” guardian.co.uk, 19 October 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/19/strategic-defence-review-military-cuts.

[iii] “Defence and security review: Groping for a strategy,” The Guardian Editorial, guardian.co.uk, 20 October 2010. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/20/defence-and-security-review-strategy.

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