-- Defence is "the best value for national resources", says new report
-- Under-funding leads to rivalry between Navy, Army and Air Force
(July 17, 2009) -- Funding for Britain's Armed Forces must be protected from public expenditure cuts, in spite of the heavy financial pressures faced by the Government, and the defence budget should be increased over the next three years to at least three per cent of GDP, according to a paper published today (July 17) by the United Kingdom National Defence Association (UKNDA).
In the UKNDA paper, "A Compelling Necessity", co-authors Andrew Roberts and Allen Sykes argue that increasing Britain's defence budget represents the best value for national resources even in the midst of recession, and that any future Strategic Defence Review must, of necessity, recommend an increase in funding for defence and national security.
The paper also accuses the Treasury of squeezing the defence budget to the point where the Navy, Army and Air Force are competing with one another for an adequate share of the limited resources available. This is a clear indication of failure to recognise the potentially wide-ranging dangers to Britain's security. The only adequate defence provision, say Roberts and Sykes, is one that maintains a large, flexible, general contingency in all three Services.
Defence funding, the paper argues, should be "threat-driven, not budget-driven". Britain is at the greatest risk when it is financially weakest, and recessionary pressures world-wide are increasing political instability in already unstable regions. Current and possible future threats to national security are large and growing. The sums required to strengthen Britain's military capability are both affordable in the national context and represent excellent value-for-money, even in the present severe economic crisis.
In his Foreword to the paper, the economist Irwin Stelzer highlights the risk to the Anglo-US Special Relationship if Britain fails to invest adequately in defence: "If Britain does not shore up its military," Stelzer writes, "so that it is capable of holding up its end of the bargain implicit in the Special Relationship, that relationship will be under severe threat. Fortunately, it is deep - culturally, socially, politically and militarily - and can endure temporary strains. But not a permanent decision by Britain to become still another free-rider on US military outlays.
"Both of our nations will be the poorer if the Special Relationship is no more, and the world will be a more dangerous place."
The UKNDA paper challenges politicians on both sides of the House of Commons to "convert the existing strong public support for our Armed Forces into an adequate defence provision."
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