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In 2007, a group of former senior military personnel, including chiefs of staff and politicians set up an organisation called the UK National Defence Association (UKNDA) to launch a campaign for a major increase in funding for the armed forces. This followed the resignation of 20,000 troops due to poor pay, too little family leave and inadequate accommodation – though the Telegraph reports inside evidence of ‘questionable’ allowances and grace-and-favour privileges, including heavily subsidised luxury apartments, are enjoyed by ‘senior military personnel’.
August 20th 2014
Kiran Stacey, political correspondent of the FT reports that the UKNDA recently published an open letter warning that the UK needed to ring-fence the Ministry of Defence’s budget after the next election to retain a credible defence and to guarantee to increase spending on the armed forces in line with inflation for the five years of the next parliament.
Reset NATO’s priorities?
The letter comes two weeks before the Nato summit in Newport, Wales, which Mr Cameron will chair, and which many defence insiders hope will help reset the military alliance’s priorities.
Some observers expect Mr Cameron and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary-general to pressure other European countries to meet the organisation’s target of spending 2% of gross domestic product on defence. But though Britain currently meets that target, figures drawn up by an independent consultancy, in an analysis commissioned by senior military personnel in the British armed forces, show that the UK’s military expenditure will be reduced to 1.9% of the size of the country’s economy by 2017.
Need for Russia to ‘take us seriously’
Stacey reports that its intervention also reflects a wider concern among defence chiefs and analysts that Nato has lost its way. Allen Sykes, one of the authors of the letter – asserts: ”Unless we also ringfence our increased defence expenditure, we are sending a signal to our opponents and allies that defence is not our priority. If we don’t do this, it would be a laughable position. Russia would not take us seriously.”
And America must be helped to continue spreading democracy and freedom
UKNDA stalwarts are Andrew Roberts, New York-based journalist & historian, with a background in corporate finance, Allen Sykes, retired international businessman and – in the background – Dr Irwin Stelzer, long-term friend of Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair, known for his book on neoconservatism and an advocate of American efforts to ‘spread democracy and freedom’, who wrote a foreword to the UKNDA’s 2009 report arguing for an increase in Britain’s defence spending.
Or witness the de facto death of the special relationship
Irwin Stelzer warns: “There is no question that the Pentagon is engaged in a reappraisal of the extent to which it can look to Britain for support in any effort involving the deployment of military assets, and therefore the extent of its obligation should Britain need assistance (perhaps if the Argentine government carries out its threat to reoccupy ‘las Malvinas’ now that the Royal Navy has withdrawn from the oil-rich area in order to meet other challenges).
”If that reappraisal results in the de facto death of the special relationship between our countries, both of us will be the loser”.
But the countries destabilised by this alliance may be given a chance to rebuild themselves. The greatest losers would be those with a vested industry in the arms industry