27 December 2009

Changing British Defence Priorities

There's quite a bit of kicking about on the reprioritisation of the UK defence budgets.

On 15 December 2009, the UK Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth announced a number of important changes in the ongoing procurement programmes for the British Armed Forces and more in general the ways the money being made available under the defence budget is being allocated. The move has officially been described as being intended to “reprioritise defence spending to help achieve success in Afghanistan, the top military priority, and balance the books”.

In political terms, however, the decision by Gordon Brown’s government to implement such substantial changes in defence spending at this particular point in time does have some perplexing implications. With a major Strategic Defence Review (SDR) already officially in the pipeline immediately after the next general elections, and indeed with preparatory work on the SDR already underway, it is difficult to understand why Mr. Brown felt compelled to act now. Observers are in disagreement as to whether Mr. Brown intends to leave his imprint on a SDR that will almost certainly be carried out by a different government or, rather, the dire prospect of a financial disaster facing the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) did require immediate action.

A glimpse at Mr Brown’s and Mr Ainsworth’s motivations could be provided by a horrifying report by the UK National Audit Office, officially issued on the very same day (15 December) but whose content was most certainly known to the government well in advance. The report states that the current defence programmes are simply unaffordable, as the MoD is facing a shortfall by at least £6 billion and potentially up to £36 billion. The current cost of 15 major military projects has risen by £3.6 billion, compared with the expected costs when the investment decisions were taken.

much more at the link

By: Widow 6-7

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