by Nathan Gain
The British government is to inject an extra €17bn (£12bn) to procure and support military equipment over the next decade, taking the total to €254bn (£178bn) to tackle terrorism, deter state-based threats and respond to crises, whilst also meeting the NATO target of spending 2% of GDP annually on defence.
In addition it pledges not to reduce the Army to below 82,000 personnel and to recruit a total of 700 more personnel for the Royal Navy and Air Force.
The figures were revealed in the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review published today (23rd November).
In the foreword to the document, Cameron writes that:
“The world is more dangerous and uncertain today than five years ago. So … this Government has taken a clear decision to invest in our security and safeguard our prosperity.”
He adds that: “In 2010, the total black hole in the defence budget alone was bigger than the entire defence budget in that year. Now it is back in balance… As a result, the United Kingdom is the only major country in the world today which is simultaneously going to meet the NATO target of spending 2% of our GDP on defence and the UN target of spending 0.7% of our GNI on development, while also increasing investment in our security and intelligence agencies and in counter-terrorism.”
Amongst other initiatives, two new Strike Brigades will be created, each consisting of up to 5,000 personnel fully equipped to deploy rapidly and sustain themselves in the field. By 2025, there will be “a highly capable expeditionary force of around 50,000”, up from the 30,000 Britain committed to in 2010.
In addition, Britain will double its investment in Special Forces’ equipment taking it to €2.8bn a year and “will maintain our ultimate insurance policy as a nation – our Continuous At Sea Nuclear Deterrent – and replace our four ballistic missile submarines. In the longer term we will also increase the size of the Royal Navy’s frigate fleet.”
An additional €3.6bn (£2.5bn) will be invested in security and intelligence agencies, including employing over 1,900 additional staff and strengthening the network of counter-terrorism experts in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Britain will establish two additional Typhoon squadrons and an additional squadron of F35 Lightning combat aircraft to operate from the two new aircraft carriers. Nine new Maritime Patrol Aircraft, based in Scotland, will be procured to protect the nuclear deterrent, hunt down hostile submarines and enhance maritime search and rescue capabilities.
Meanwhile, British media are reporting that Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to appeal for Britain to take part in air strikes over Syria and that a parliamentary vote could be held before Christmas. According to the Sunday Times Mr Cameron’s appeal will include a seven-point plan including legal justifications for the military action.