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How much should the UK spend on defence?

11:20 UK time, Saturday, 16 October 2010

The Royal Navy's flagship, the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, is to be scrapped early as part of the government's defence review. How big should the defence budget be?

David Cameron is due to unveil the first strategic defence and security review in 12 years at 1530 BST.

The budget will be cut by less than 10% following a personal intervention by Prime Minister David Cameron, according to BBC Defence Correspondent Caroline Wyatt.

Should the Defence Budget be protected from larger cuts? Was Mr Cameron right to intervene? What do you think of Hillary Clinton's reaction? Should Army numbers be cut?

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Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    The government should keep this information a secret. Really.

  • Comment number 2.

    Haven't we flogged anything worth defending?
    A recognition that invading others on a US whim does not constitute any form of defence might be a start - doubt the great brit public could understand that one mind.

  • Comment number 3.

    As much as is needed...................!
    No Cuts!

  • Comment number 4.

    aircraft and planes are referred to as things by the coalition chancellor Osbourne,meaning his non-appreciative concept of knowledge on defence and it's cost to the nation is a bit scary, indeed his pet defence of his own vision of how the government is to perform is to 'wait and see' a Chamberlain type of uncertainty on how best the coalition government is to deal with an invitation to spend more on defence.

  • Comment number 5.

    Defence? Or attack?
    And defence from what?

    [Lynn]
    "The government should keep this information a secret"

    The previous government had, how shall we put this, a problem with the truth. Continuing in the same vein wouldn't be that great an idea would it?

    Besides - the government is /our/ government and if we're to decide how best the country should be run we need access to all the facts.

  • Comment number 6.

    Its interesting to that the US were worried that we might just make cuts unacceptable to them.Oh!Dear,that smacks of yes you can make cuts but only if we approve.It was pointed out that each Nato country should make a certain percentage of GDP to defence.mmm!I wonder how that pans out with countries other than the UK?.To be honest the UK has not got the income to throw at every war the US wants to engage in.I would think that we as a nation put more resources into defence than most and most of that is backing up the US!!!The truth is that Nato is a myth and really it comprises of just two countries.Neither can afford to wage war on the scale that is required and costs are unsustainable.On that basis the days of Nato are numbered and a more sensible approach to world defence should be considered which allows ALL countries of the world to make a contribution with a new set of rules and with any luck the overall cost of WORLD defence would fall for everyone.Will it happen?No its business dear boy just business.

  • Comment number 7.

    2. At 10:01am on 17 Oct 2010, chrislabiff wrote:
    Haven't we flogged anything worth defending?
    A recognition that invading others on a US whim does not constitute any form of defence might be a start - doubt the great brit public could understand that one mind.
    ----------------------------------------------------

    Well yes and considering practically the whole country is now owned by foreign nationals or corporations we really do not require any military at all......There would be absolutely no point to any country invading us as they already got everything of value!

  • Comment number 8.

    The only reason Hilary Clinton is complaining about European defence cuts is that she's scared that the US will have to fight its own wars instead of conning others into doing their dirty work for them.

    As for UK defence cuts, it's simple. Bring our boys and girls home from Afghanistan right now. Complete waste of money and even more importantly lives in an exercise that benefits this country not one jot.

  • Comment number 9.

    We must spend how ever much is needed. Government must prioritize the protection of its citizens...its the main duty they have! Oh and thank America for enabling us to massively underspend on defence for all these years.

  • Comment number 10.

    post 2 by chrislabiff

    we should spend what our forces need to attack our enemies/defend this country and its allies

    maybe stop benefit scroungers to give our guys decent rifles etc?

    stop the culture where it pays 'chavs' from sink estates to 'breed' whilst our troops get second quality desert boots?

    and i'll fight side by side with us forces any day of the week

  • Comment number 11.

    Personal intervention eh? I didn't realise that we were a dictatorship; I thought we were supposed to have a government led by a cabinet. Some of DC's dinner party friends been leaning on him. Probably the same ones that had policies with Equitable Life? If we had put the resources we have wasted on two pointless wars into protecting our borders, we would have the ultimate in anti-terrorism measures and solved the problems of illegal immigration. Instead we removed one of the bastions against fundamentalism in Saddam Hussein (No, I'm not defending his regime; just making a point about political pragmatism; after all, you could argue that the situations in Zimbabwe or Somalia or North Korea are as bad but we've done nothing about those). Instead ,we have fought wars we cannot win against cultures we cannot change with the consequent loss of life and spent huge amounts in the process. It says something about a country that it is prepared to spend vast amounts of money on sending its young to war but not on sending them to university.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Only the Condemned government could authorise billions on Aircraft Carriers with no aircraft!

  • Comment number 14.

    The Defence budget should have been ring fenced completely.

    However, at least the carriers are going to be completed, which is good news for the manufacturing industry. Considering that BAE Systems is effectively our only remaining global manufacturing company, the more we support the 'defence sector', the better.

  • Comment number 15.

    As much as it can reasonably afford, having first come to terms with the fact that we do not have the resources to be a World Power, and that the prime duty of UK Defence is to defend our homeland, including nuclear threats if necessary.
    All this stuff put about by senior Officers about 'Force Projection' is rubbish - we don't have the money to do it, unless we want to remain junior partners of the US sharing the blame for their wars.
    The carriers are a farce - two aren't enough to do the job, as one will for much of the time be refitting. Anyway it seems we only have enough cash to buy aircraft for one of them, and then to below its capacity.
    Don't believe the Trade Routes argument either - if that isn't a collaborative job for all the like minded democratic nations, then what is? I don't know the figures but I'd guess that Dover-Calais is one of our most important trade routes. And the deep sea routes leading to the UK also lead to Dunkirk, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg,etc. Britain also isn't by a long way the only deep sea tanker destination on the western European coast.
    We cannot afford any more than 2% of GDP on defence, and if the Americans don't like it, too bad.

  • Comment number 16.

    If the British politicians didn't send British "defense" forces (whose primary objective should be to defend British borders) to "attack" other nations thousands of miles from the British shore, we wouldn't have been in such a mess.

    Not only, it's cost Britain billions of pounds but a serious dent to British Armed force, across the world. It takes centuries to earn respect but it only takes few years of foul-up to lose that respect.

    Britain's lost the ability to advance further with the loss of Empire.

  • Comment number 17.

    The head up their *&&^s pacifists want to spend nothing but that is typical. "The world has changed", "There is no threat" and "We do not need defence spending" are all invitations to disaster. We should increase defence spending and cut overseas aid.

  • Comment number 18.

    The MoD should buy all our weapons and military kit for our troops from France.

    Good value and cost-effective by it's sheer manufacturing volume of weaponry and major supplier to most Nations across the world, including ALL it's very 'active' post-colonial customers.

    No, not being ironic - just realistic.

  • Comment number 19.

    post 8 by Megan

    the Us has a right to be concerned

    UK forces forced to retreat from Basra with their tales between their legs - never having established control and having to release insurgents to ensure a safe retreat

    UK special forces leaving Basra and moving into Baghdad with us special forces because they could not do their job due to lack of helicopters/vehicles etc - task Force Black IF you need to know?

    the Us provided armoured humvees and blackhawk helicopters

    leaving Helmand - the us take over because we could not hold ground?

    the guys on the ground are brilliant - and i have serving friends - but the 'high command'/politico's are inept and incompetent - and as such throw their lives away - does not matter as they are all remf's

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    Defence is designed to protect the governments and their friends with lots of money from losing the power and wealth they wield. It's not about protecting the population or any national interests; Britain doesn't have any of those because successive governments have sold them all to the highest foreign bidder.

    Cut the entire budget to zero, disband the forces then re-group as a terrorist force and we'll get funded by the CIA. Simple really, and no defence budget needed!

  • Comment number 22.

    That is why Britain will continue to lag behind the US. The more you spend on defence, the mightier you become!

  • Comment number 23.

    instead of cutting back the military budget should be increased even at the expense of the nhs budget, a third carrier and support vessels and d`ont forget about 3 infantry assault ships that are going to be needed soon

  • Comment number 24.

    Surely this is the whole point of goverenment. Everything else can be provided for by the private sector (Schools, Health). Keeping us safe is up to the goverenment.

  • Comment number 25.

    5. At 10:21am on 17 Oct 2010, Simon Harpham wrote:

    >>>The previous government had, how shall we put this, a problem with the truth. Continuing in the same vein wouldn't be that great an idea would it?


    I don’t mean that the military information has to be kept secret from everybody. However, I won’t tell irrelevant people that my house is not insured, or my country has only one solider ….. etc., either.

    Come on! Use your brain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Defence budget??

    Ahh they mean the attack budget....

  • Comment number 27.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 28.

    A small 10% reduction will come as a surprise to many, given the disasterous financial position we are in. So surely something is afoot, and as we all know a budget can reveal more than a million words....
    I think we can trust our 'special friend' America to require our full support, in terms of lives and taxpayer money, to wage a new war against Iran within long. In the name of international security of course.
    Not that Iran has the slightest against us. They just happen not to like Israel and America, and anybody studying history will know why.
    Had our 'special friend' been as eager to help us under WWII, many British lives would have been saved. "It's not our war" was the US policy at the time.

  • Comment number 29.

    The armed forces are one of the few things that the British can feel justifiably proud of.

    In the 1950s over 10% of GDP when on defence, in the 1980s about 5%, now we only spend a little over 2%. At the same time we have had massive increases in welfare and health provision. It is highly questionable whether the British public have had much increased value from that spending unless you are one of those who have chosen to live off benefits or you are one of the new class of superpaid public administrators.

    We could save money in Defence by choosing a less sophisticated nuclear deterrent and we don't need to have an army in Germany anymore. What we do need are armed forces that are balanced with an emphasis on responding quickly and flexibily around the world. I hope the carriers and amphibious forces are retained because they are just the sort of weapon systems needed for the 21st century.

  • Comment number 30.

    We should spend enough to defend our borders, and enough to help out our European neighbours. We should also have some potential for helping America, but we should be very careful what wars they drag us into. Furthermore the people should have far more say in going to war for strategic, rather than defensive reasons. Allying ourselves with a strenghtening Europe, to me, is right. For too long we have ridden (embarrassingly) on the coat-tails of the U.S. in foreign policy. Our "rationale" should be: We are Europeans, with global interests.

  • Comment number 31.

    "How much should the UK spend on defence"? is the HYS question.

    America currently has a roundly educated President, with an open mind and a focus on a firm and 'fatherly' attitude toward those well-known bullies on the planet? However, Obama is left with a huge mess, in all areas, left by Right wing neo-con extremist George Bush Jnr and Tony Blair - wars and global financial collapse caused by banks on their Watch.

    Neo-conservatives or any form of extremism in any Nation is not to be tolerated because only women and children suffer or die.

    As most leaders - elected or dictators - tend to be a men-only club, one wonders why. If the UN get their act together on UN for women, one hopes it will help. Sadly, I doubt it. Women and children are on a hiding to nowhere while men continue to squabble over their pathetic egos.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Instead of cutting back the military budget should be increased even at the expense of the nhs budget, a third carrier and support vessels and d`ont forget about 3 infantry assault ships that are going to be needed soon".......

    One day you'll be led in a corridor in a hospital ward on a Saturday night and that comment will come back to haunt you, what a ridiculous thing to say.

  • Comment number 33.

    The government has a duty to protect the country in times of war. We are at war. We should leave Afghanistan, now!!! In addition the government must maintain forces to defend the realm at all times.

    We need a strong a well equiped army. The navy needs those two aircraft carriers with the planes and helicopters fit for the purpose whether for the Royal Navy or or Royal Air Force. We also need to replace Trident. Finally for all those naive muppets who think we should leave it all to the USA, history tells us that they let us down in 1914 and again in 1939 and finally 1982. Each time all they extended was "their best wishes".

  • Comment number 34.

    good old Mahatma of Britain is back on the scene

    care to comment on India buying 300 Soviet planes whilst the locals die on the streets?

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    As I remember we were caught with our PANTS down the last time 1939-45
    Does Cameron want this to happen AGAIN
    We might NOT be so lucky the next time
    There are MORE that would like to have a go at us and this reduction could give them the chance they want
    We NEED protection NO matter what it costs
    The Money and cost does NOT come into it
    Save Money elsewhere, there are many other ways without cutting our DEFENCE PROGRAM
    Wake UP Cameron show SOME sence for once for goodness sake

  • Comment number 37.

    They can save an awful lot of money, and lives, by bringing the military home.

  • Comment number 38.

    Our defence spending should be kept at 3%, that way we comply with our promise to NATO and other treaties. The British have always been reknown for the fact we keep our promises.
    The important thing that needs changing is how we spend that 3%, too much is being wasted on administration and petty fiddling.
    First savings should be made:- At the MoD by reducing staff and moving the whole shebang to the middlelands thus saving £3 billion a year.
    The four services need to rid themselves of the 'hangers on' and stop employing people on the Old Boy basis. We need young fit service people, in uniform, who can be deployed around the world. ALL personnel must be retired at 55 years of age. Also there must be a maxim that if you cannot do the job you cannot be employed.
    Our services need to be better managed, not by a vast swathe of civil servants but from within by people in uniform who themselves must have formal supervisory/management training at each level of promotion.
    Too many valuable service personnel of lower rank are not utilised because the senior officers have their own agendas, thus careers are stifled and personnel leave and their experience, (and costly training), wasted.

  • Comment number 39.

    Cut as you will. However, the funding must support the military commitments the government makes. The person in the field MUST have the equipment to do the job without incurring additional, unnecessary risks and that includes sufficient forces to get the job done.

    If the government can not fund it, DON'T commit the military to doing it.

  • Comment number 40.

    They should spend as much as it takes - it is the primary responsibility of government, skimping on it would be particularly silly in time of war - even if that war is not on our shores.

    Also, spending on defence sends a strong signal around the world - and for the same reason I am glad to see the rumours that aircraft carriers are going ahead - since we have a potential problem brewing up again in the Falklands. The best way to avoid trouble is to show that you have the hardware, the manpower and the resolve to deal with any aggressor.

  • Comment number 41.

    We need a complete restructuring of defence, to make it fit for purpose, before we can work out how much it's going to cost us. The first priority should be adequately paying, training and providing for the troops on the ground - however many of those are necessary for a sensible defence strategy.

    We should think about how many senior officers we really need - at present the Royal Navy has more admirals than ships, let alone fleets.

    And finally, we should stop wasting money on expensive and unnecessary research that never leads anywhere. Let the private sector pick up the tab for failed projects and white elephants, and we will pay only for what we need.

  • Comment number 42.

    It's not how much we spend at any given time but how well we can adapt our spending to a changing world. We saw this in the US after 9/11. Had it been longer since the end of the Cold War and we had drawn down our resources even more, it would have taken us much longer and been more costly to re-gather ourselves. As it was, it took quite a bit and diverted the Bush administration from other things they wished to accomplish. I think our governments of today have a responsibility to be ready to step back into war status at a moment's notice if necessary.

  • Comment number 43.

    At the moment the greatest threat to our country, its future security, and the well-being, prosperity and liberty of its inhabitants comes from its own government and the ultra-wealthy interests which support it. We should all be considering how much we are individually prepared to sacrifice before we realise that our government is supposed to do what we say and if they fail to do so we should be removing them by any means necessary.

  • Comment number 44.

    The defence budget is one of the single largest innovating budgets in the UK, more new technology that yes does help humanity comes from the military budget, from the Jet engine (RAF) to public key encryption (GCHQ).

    To cut the defence budget and at the same time the intelligence budgets in the UK would be a class A stupid move.

    Like it or not we are partner to the USA, Canada, NZ and Australia and we are a major partner, both militarily and through our intelligence services/capabilities.

    While those here who say “cut defence” will probably not think of its ramifications, trust me when I say that defence spending is one of the expenditures that does more for all UK citizens than any other budget, and that's not generally through defence overseas of the British realm...

    It's all the private sector government contract's that still keeps what manufacturing we have alive, it's academic research papers yes you see the effects of these papers every day, the perfect example of that is the very device that your using to read this post the electronic computer (GCHQ), It's the tinned food you buy from your local supermarket (Army), It's radar allowing for modern aviation (RAF), It's Nuclear Fission soon to be Fusion that powers your homes, it's making sure there's never a 7/7 again (GCHQ, MI5, MI6)....

    There are countless other innovations that are a direct result of the defence budget, cut the defence budget? You must be crazy.

    Science is the foundation of any modern economy, and no other budget is so heavily reliant on science than the MoD or Intelligence services..

  • Comment number 45.

    23. At 11:30am on 17 Oct 2010, ronnie wrote:
    "instead of cutting back the military budget should be increased even at the expense of the nhs budget, a third carrier and support vessels and d`ont forget about 3 infantry assault ships that are going to be needed soon
    --------------
    What for? The invasion of Iran perhaps? Or storming the beaches of Normandy again to liberate our downtrodden EU partners, eking out a miserable life under the oppression of the the EU Commission?
    Or would you like to build up BAOR again? Easily done, because for some inexplicable reason we still have an army presence in Germany 65 years after it was all over.
    You might also want to expand the already absurdly large British Defence Staff in Washington. (That must already cost a few thousand hip operations a year, believe me)

  • Comment number 46.

    The budget for the Ministry of Defence has been finalised, with lower cuts than originally announced by the Treasury, the BBC has learned. How big should the defence budget be?

    I am not in the position to say 'how much' or 'hoe little' should be spent on defence, but having spent some years in the armed forces, home and overseas in active service - RAF - it gave me a very good insight into some of the problems faced then, compared to the problems faced now.

    To a significant degree, the cuts in university funding on top of the cuts in defence is going to have a very adverse effect on 'home grown' developments in technical applications - both peacefull and defence - so this comments seeks to look at the position of defence spending in the here and now relative to the defence spending of forty years ago - this may not seem particularly relevent to many, but it is in fact very relevent indeed.

    Forty years ago there were more British Dependancies than there are now, there were problems with terrorists then in the Middle East, Malaya and the surrounding areas, but nowhere near the scale and danger we face now. The PFLO (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) was very active in those days, though their terrorist actions were mainly limited to the Middle East and surrounding countries, with the exception of the terrorist attack on Isreals Olympic team in Germany, and actions by such terrorist groups as the 'Barder Minehoff' (apologies if spelling is incorrect) and 'Red Brigade' groups along with the IRA in the UK and Ireland, though the defence spending then was such that troops in the front line did not have to do without the armour and protection needed to 'do the job' as many now have to in Afganistan and Iraq - despite claims from the MOD to the contrary.

    The point here is that we now face a much more dangerous enemy in the form of terrorism, to ignore that and say it doesn't matter - as some comments here have made - is clearly courting a terrorist outrage of unimaginable proportions.
    There is no doubt that the actions of both Bush and Blair together have made the situation regarding the terrorist threat far worse, but the position of defence spending is it has to be dealt with based on the probability of what could happen in the here and now.

    In light of the deep cuts imposed on University spending, and thus the increased forthcoming costs to students - and their parents too I might add - seeking to obtain usefull professional qualifications for their future positions and roles in life, will ultimately create a two tier university system for the haves and the have nots - financialy crippling many of the students for decades to come, it will also reduce significantly, the position held by universities in the UK of technological inventions and developments of new systems in technology that not only help a mirade of industries in peacefull applications but also in the theatres of defensive technical developments and applications. Something that clearly has not been thought through properly or dealt with by those at the top - no change there really.

    The point here is that there needs to be more spent on defence in body armour and getting the correct equipment and more on the applications and softwear to electronicaly infiltrate the various 'chains of command' in terrorist operations and active cells.

    In an ideal world it would be very nice if defence spending was not needed, if multiculturalism worked and all got on with everyone else despite race, colour, creed or religeion, quite clearly it does not as Mrs Merkel on the BBC in Germany has stated. The rise in terrorist activity across Europe, Asia and the US does begger the question 'Does Islam have a hidden agenda'? From the continual rhetoric coming out of Iran it does appear to be the case.

    Until the terrorist threat is dealt with, eliminated or taken-out entirely - which ever way you like to look at it, spending on defence has to be a priority - even if we don't like it. that is the stark reality of the situation we in the UK, mainland Europe, Asia and the US face. To think otherwise is to ignore the threat of terrorism.

  • Comment number 47.

    8% cut to the defence budget. 80% cut to higher education funding. I think this tells you all you need to know about the priorities of this Conservative government.

    And I'd like to know why this discussion remained closed for 24 hours. Was the BBC taking more briefings from the government?

  • Comment number 48.

    Europe is incapable of doing anything militarily without the US. They have shown nothing but ingratitude to the fact they are free today because of the sacifices of Americans. This being the case it is about time we let them stand on there on two feet.

    NATO was never an "alliance" - it was the US defending weaker nations against a military that was more powerfull then they could handle. By calling it an alliance we were making Europe feel like partners without putting up a partners share.

    Untill the US pulls out of NATO Europe will never maintain a meaningfull millitary. It is about time we do.

  • Comment number 49.

    It's easy to speculate, but difficult to know how much defence will cost until we know what the threats are. At present, it's all being done backwards. The Government is putting the cart (how much will it cost?) before the horse (what need we prepare for?)
    The recent announcement of broad defence objectives: Homeland safety, Counter-terrorism, major civil contingencies etc. is a help. But the final item on the list (no doubt put at the end in the hope that people will miss it) concerns other contingencies and requirements overseas, or words like that.
    Will the Government please tell the taxpayer what they mean by this? They obviously can't give exact predictions of what might happen in the world in 10-20 years time, (the lead time for many modern weapons systems to come fully into service) but what are they thinking of preparing our armed forces for under this vague heading?
    Action alone or with allies?
    Which allies?
    What capabilities for ground troops?
    What theatres? Arctic? Desert? Jungle? Mountainous? Delta country? Urban?
    What aerial roles? UK air defence? long range strike? close and intermediate ground support? maritime reconnaissance/strike? airborne early warning/signals interception?
    What Naval forces? coastal defence? trade routes? (which ones?)Strike and air cover in force projection?
    Nuclear attack prevention and response?
    Overseas bases?
    To name but a few
    We don't need detailed justification or things that have to be kept secret, but the people who elect the Government and pay for its policies should be told fairly clearly what their Government sees as our need for overseas defence capabilities, and why.

  • Comment number 50.

    Well after hearing on the news tonight that the government has sold out to the USA ie Hilary Clinton says to UK that they can not cut defence and suddenly the PM jumps in and stops the defence cut. I do not know or pretend to know what everyone else feels but this makes my blood boil. First we are supposed to be "in this together" and what happens the rich stay rich ie the bankers are protected by this government, Second not content with not only an in competent department (MOD) getting away with the cuts but also that the Education of all our children will suffer to save them. My children are now grown up but to cut the budget of education is obscene whilst they carry on fighting a war that very few people in the UK support. Plus the only winners from this decision are the USA as we carry on fighting a losing war, secondly the military leaders who know we have lost this war but are to proud to admit defeat, thirdly the PM who will collect his 13 pieces of silver from the USA just as Tony Blair collected his. Finally I hope that the blood of all those who are killed needlessly in Afghanistan does not wash off George Osborne and David Cameron's hands. Does it not hit the UK population that it does not matter if you vote Conservative, Labour or Libdem all you will get are toady's for the USA and traitors to our country. Do you really want this for your Children. Please start fighting for your future and your country.
    If I am wrong please tell me as I have had enough of this weak country and if I am wrong I will be happy to leave this corrupt system.

  • Comment number 51.

    .

    2% of GDP , or 30Bn gbp - whichever is the lower.

  • Comment number 52.

    Mr Cameron has unusually shown some weakness in yielding to Mrs Clinton's demands.

    He should have reminded her that the UK economy is in its parlous state largely because of irresponsible lending in the form of sub-prime mortgages in the USA, America's trade protection policy, and that it was her country that proposed war in the Middle East. Having bitten off more than it could chew, she should also have been told in no uncertain terms that the USA must sort its own problems out, and that we decline to support its economy with orders for another round of weapons we really don't need.

    Rather more savage cuts should have been made in our defence budget. I don't believe for one moment that we are facing imminent danger from any other country, and the less we have to defend ourselves, the less of a danger we become to others. Simple really, isn't it?

  • Comment number 53.

    That is why Britain will continue to lag behind the US. The more you spend on defence, the mightier you become!


    -----
    Really?
    The highest spend of the proportion of GDP in the world for a country is that of North Korea! Two of the lowest Switzerland and Japan.

    In fact the military budget of the USA (nearly half the total in the world) is nearly triple the amount spent in the EU and yet the EU out produces the USA and has higher per capita income.

  • Comment number 54.

    13. At 10:57am on 17 Oct 2010, steve wrote:
    Only the Condemned government could authorise billions on Aircraft Carriers with no aircraft!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wasn't it a Labour government that signed the contracts for the carriers in the first place (along with the eye-watering get out clauses)?

    Apologies, I forgot that the previous Labour government weren't the cause of most of the problems that the Coalition are now having to deal with.

  • Comment number 55.

    Why not cut by 100%? Do away with the military altogether. Who knows, it might just be crazy enough to work. You may assume I am joking if you wish.

  • Comment number 56.

    I think the question should include consideration of not just how much is spent but where it is spent.

    Why do we need so many civil servants in proportion to the armed service personnel? I keep reading that we have more admirals than fighting ships and have a horrible feeling it may be true.

    Surely the axe should fall on the bureaucrats not the armed forces - but the politicians are being advised by the bureaucrats so until turkeys start voting for Xmas, we will continue to waste money on pen pushers instead at the expense of fighters unless the politicians wake up to the reality that is staring us all in the face.

  • Comment number 57.

    Churchill said "... the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. upon it depends our own British life ..."

    Since beardy lefties now insist on stating that there is no such thing as 'British life' why are we spending anything to defend it?

  • Comment number 58.

    Quite frankly I am disgusted by the anti American sentiment offered in this blog. If we can just go back a century to the vital US contribution in the First World War followed by the second world war. And so on.

    The world does need policing and it has been done very well over the last century by Britain America and its allies. Thye ramifications of Britain abregating responsibity onto the shoulders of rogue states is all too real.

    The present government are obsessed with cuts. THey need not be so draconian but they will continue until people come out into the streets as they did to quell government aggrandisement over the Poll Tax

  • Comment number 59.

    For as much as the UK invests in defence it will never be a near competitor to China and the USA which are the only countries investing heavily in defence. Other countries can’t compete. Thus Europe should pay for a fair share of the USA defence and share it.

  • Comment number 60.

    The Defence Budget needs to be broken into two portions; one to finance operations, such as in Afghanistan; the other to finance procurement of weapons platforms and systems. The first should be protected, even ring-fenced; the second portion is where most of the waste occurs and that should be the focus of attention for cuts, if need be. In procurement, resources should be directed at weapons and their damage effects instead of platforms, many of which seem to me to be too gold-plated. In conflict, the best often can be the enemy of the good, quantity has a quality of its own and if one is not prepared to risk losing it (combat attrition), then it should not have been purchased in the first place. e.g. just two aircraft carriers. We are approaching the point where the size of our Armed Services is falling below what constitutes a critical mass. They may look magnificent on ceremonial duties but they are becoming pitifully small. One answer has to be to avoid any deployed operations overseas unless vital national interests are at stake and instead concentrate on the security and protection of the UK landmass, its territorial waters and airspace. The future of the nuclear deterrent should be set aside as a political decision, because that is what it has now become.

  • Comment number 61.

    If you want peace prepare for war.

  • Comment number 62.

    Costs could be massively saved if the whole system was more efficent. For too long unecessary expenditure has been present across the board (education, defence, health especially) due largely in apart to poor practise. Defence Proclurment is crucial for industry however, its a prime example of mis-management. Surely then if the system was to be given a massive shake-up industry (and other sectors such as the NHS) wouldn't need to suffer as much due to these cuts. Is this goverment really going to reform or is it just going to make damaging cuts that will leave us in a situation similar to that pre-ww2 or Falklands?

  • Comment number 63.


    • 48. At 1:35pm on 17 Oct 2010, DJRUSA wrote:
    Europe is incapable of doing anything militarily without the US. They have shown nothing but ingratitude to the fact they are free today because of the sacifices of Americans. This being the case it is about time we let them stand on there on two feet.

    NATO was never an "alliance" - it was the US defending weaker nations against a military that was more powerfull then they could handle. By calling it an alliance we were making Europe feel like partners without putting up a partners share.

    Untill the US pulls out of NATO Europe will never maintain a meaningfull millitary. It is about time we do.
    ……………………………..

    I guess you are a US citizen, so your comments are unsurprising. But if you can’t handle the responsibilities of managing a hegemony or are unprepared to fund the US political empire, the option for the US is to downsize its ambition and its responsibilities.

    You currently spend 47% of all the money spent in the world on armaments and military personnel. Don’t (even) you consider this excessive?

  • Comment number 64.

    48. At 1:35pm on 17 Oct 2010, DJRUSA wrote:
    "NATO was never an "alliance" - it was the US defending weaker nations against a military that was more powerfull then they could handle. By calling it an alliance we were making Europe feel like partners without putting up a partners share."
    Come on, you were doing it for your own defence. No reason why you shouldn't, but be honest about it and spare us the tearjerking stuff about US magnanimity
    ------------------------------
    "Untill the US pulls out of NATO Europe will never maintain a meaningfull millitary. It is about time we do."
    Now that's something you and I can agree on, and the sooner it happens the better. Your going will force our reluctant politicians into developing a European defence posture for the continent of Europe. Remember we Europeans all lived here without your help until a couple of hundred years after we began to found your country for you. I think we've learned our lessons by now, and we can certainly live with Russia without your help. If totalitarianism darkens our skies again you 'll be back like a shot (for once) because you have too much to lose yourselves. It's called Realpolitik, and nobody can blame you for doing it. Everyone else does.

  • Comment number 65.

    £1.50p

  • Comment number 66.

    We're NOT a major global power any longer,& can't go on playing the role of international policeman indefinitely.

    Something which appears to have escaped the notice of some of our high ranking officers,who seem to think that when it comes to making distinctions for determining areas of spending priorities, they can just assume the requirements of their areas of responsibility come first.

    Not for the lower paid public servant who has to reapply for his/her job on reduced terms, or the individual facing redundancy at a time of potentially significant welfare reform/cuts they're not!

    Apart from us having sufficient defence forces to protect our home territory, we really don't have many further interests beyond this. If we have, we've now an opportunity to divest ourselves of them.

    The world's moved on & so must we,& if the inhabitants the more fractious parts of it wish to become 'restless' I'm very much afraid it ought not to be a British 'gunboat' this time which sails into view in order to quell their intemperance.

    Those days are gone,& with them must go this inbuilt attitude born largely out of the vanity of politicians,that whatever the domestic circumstances may be..."we'll always find money for wars-!!"













  • Comment number 67.

    38. At 12:45pm on 17 Oct 2010, Peter Buck wrote:
    " We need young fit service people, in uniform, who can be deployed around the world."
    ---
    To do what?

  • Comment number 68.

    Whom are these Brits the Traffic - Wardens of the World going to War with next?
    And, at what further Costs to every other UK Government Departments cut backs in Expenses.

  • Comment number 69.

    --------------------------------
    ▶ WARNING NEWS ALERT ◀
    --------------------------------
    Next weeks news summary :
    1. ✂ CUTS DUE : 20th October 2010
    2. ✍ SCHOOLS BREAK UP : 21st October 2010
    3. ☁ EVEN MORE RECESSION : 22nd October 2010 to infinity and beyond

    ✗ 1-2-3 VOTE TORY NOT
    ☺ HAVE A NICE DAY Y'ALL!
    ♫ STAY TUNED...MORE NEWS AT 11

    ♢ ♢ Presure Drop ♢ ♢ Sitting In Limbo ♢ ♢
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyaB9Wxdd34

  • Comment number 70.

    What on earth have the Yanks got to do with the UK's defence budget? Oh sorry, they regard the UK's armed forces as something they use when they require cannon fodder for their nasty little illegal wars & they want their interests looking after!

    The UK's armed forces should be in the UK & nowhere else - if there's an attack on the UK - then that's what they're for - not to be at the beck & call of the Yanks!

    We've lost enough kids thanks to Bush - NO MORE!!!

  • Comment number 71.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 72.

    You think we should listen to General Mike Jackson, the man who heard no shooting in Derry on Bloody Sunday.
    Cut the money to these parasites.
    Lets have a ministry of Peace instead of Defence. No money on arms spending, no Trident and fire everybody who supports Trident on the grounds of their pessimistic outlook of the future.
    The defence establishment exists only to line their own pockets.
    The US will have to have their own cuts soon enough.
    As for aircraft carriers what a total waste of money they are, with the rise of cheap anti ship missiles and drones they will be confined to port in any serious confrontation.
    If a Jumbo jet can be flown accross the atlantic by remote control why have we still got pilots in planes.
    Kids with Playstation experience will be controlling the new technology and WW11 ideas really should be dead in the water.
    The Isrealis have a drone which does not need human oversight to automatically attack radar stations.
    Spitfires would probably be more effective against drones then some of the currant technology.
    What happened to stealth technology? Some serbian worked out how to shoot them down with 60's russian technology.
    All this big spending is about keeping the defence establishment in jobs and commissions for the boys.

  • Comment number 73.

    22. At 11:20am on 17 Oct 2010, Kolawole Ajao wrote:
    That is why Britain will continue to lag behind the US. The more you spend on defence, the mightier you become!


    Sure, that's why the USSR is now the mightiest superpower in the world. Oh wait, no it isn't. It spent nearly 50% of GDP on defence and failed to keep up economically with the rest of the world and so collapsed.

    Germany and Japan, on the other hand, were forced to spend so little on their armed forces after WW2 that they grew economically far faster than the USA and Britain.

  • Comment number 74.

    58. At 2:51pm on 17 Oct 2010, Robert wrote: Quite frankly I am disgusted by the anti American sentiment offered in this blog. If we can just go back a century to the vital US contribution in the First World War followed by the second world war. And so on

    Lol don't be disgusted! Its where cock-eyed no marks vent their spleens. Left wing fifth columnists who are traitorous in their views but have no answers except blaming america.....they are too dumb to acknowledged that Europe has for decades been able to massively underspend on defence......kosovo anyone?

  • Comment number 75.

    We should cut our forces to the minimum. What are they for? interfering in other countries business mainly. We should stop pretending we are still a world power and spend on defence like the minnow we have become. Our world efforts should be concentrated on diplomacy and supplying personnel to the UN peace keeping force. Finally we definitely should scrap Trident - a more useless and expensive waste of money could not have been dreamt up.

  • Comment number 76.

    Its should not a case of defence cuts, it should be a case of spending what we have more wisely.
    IE I can go into a hardware store and buy a claw hammer for £9.99. I dont need a defence contractor to charge me £39.99 for the same item.
    THAT is where the money is wasted. That, and too many service jobs given to civillians who are not up to the job ( ie stores and MT, 2 examples )

  • Comment number 77.

    Perhaps we should rely on the Indians and Chinese for our military support. After all, they'll soon have more invested in this country than we have ourselves!

  • Comment number 78.

    £1.47 this year and increased each year in line with state pension increases.

  • Comment number 79.

    As a former Service personnel, its odd that I should be advocating cut backs on Defence spending. Its shocking the amount of dosh spent annually on the three main branches of the Armed Forces; and the world is supposed to be at peace with ourselves. I believe its deep-rooted in our psyche the idea of militarism with its accompanying glamour and adulation, yes, the yearly ceremony at the Cenotaph, and the endless marching up and down the streets of our villages, towns and cities. New wars have to be fought and lives of our young men and women sacrificed so that in years to come they too can be remembered on 11th November. Why can't we follow the simple ethics that Prevention is better than Cure. Let's make friends with everyone and every country, the UN is already in existence and the perfect platform for discussions. Lets get rid of the unseen enemies, the imaginary evil empire who are about to invade our country. Yes, let's stand on our own two feet and stop crawling to the US or anyone else and accepting orders on spurious excuses to sacrifice our troops on behalf of Israel or US. Lets have some pride back in ourselves and set examples for others to follow, not going in with guns blazing at all and sundry.

  • Comment number 80.

    79. At 4:43pm on 17 Oct 2010, matt-stone wrote: As a former Service personnel....... and then a rant.


    With your views its best your out of the forces. Save it for people who will do their job and not have warped views that are at odds with this countries armed services.

  • Comment number 81.

    80. At 5:01pm on 17 Oct 2010, krokodil wrote:
    79. At 4:43pm on 17 Oct 2010, matt-stone wrote: As a former Service personnel....... and then a rant.
    With your views its best your out of the forces. Save it for people who will do their job and not have warped views that are at odds with this countries armed services.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm not sure what to make of your rather offensive comment to matt-stone.
    Are you implying that we need to set up a Thought Police to purge our Armed Forces of anyone who dares to criticise them from within, or indeed to root out and punish those who criticise them from without?
    I thought we'd seen the last of that when we got rid of Military Government here in 1660.

  • Comment number 82.

    How much should the UK spend on defence? The "defence" budget should not be cut. I emphasise the word defence because expenditure should be about the defence of the realm, so money can be saved by getting out of Afghanistan ASAP, like now.

    Personnel can be reduced over the coming years through natural wastage, e.g. retirement or leaving the forces for personal reasons.

    At this point in time, there is no need to replace trident, so this should be put on hold.

  • Comment number 83.

    The cost for the defence of the UK will always grow while we are in situations where this country keeps poking its nose into problems in other countries and especially in following what the USA decides what needs to be done.
    The costing for defending the UK should be just that...for the UK and not for countries like IRAQ, Afghanistan and probably IRAN with the way things are going...

  • Comment number 84.

    I think the whole idea of defence needs more thought. People are supposed to be scared of us because of our nuclear weapons programme launched from four submarines, one of which is always on active patrol. This system seems to work as no other nation has invaded us. What is to stop us saying we have lots more submarines and warheads when in fact we do not and therefore not actually spending the money. If the government put out a statement tomorrow saying we have 10 times more submarines and weapons, would anyone disbelieve it? I hear we have four but I've never seem them and I bet none of the possible current threats such as Iran or North Korea have seen them either or have the facilities to locate our submarines which could be upto 300m under water anywhere in the world. So if you're reading this in North Korea (which you probably aren't because you don't have internet yet), Britain has got far more nuclear weapons than you think. So there!

  • Comment number 85.

    Who is it that we are so afraid of that no amount of money will make anyone secure. It's yourself, watch out the boogey man is coming.

    China can buy this little country and still have change, in fact their cash in the bank is greater than the USA annual military budget, oh they also own the USA debt. If you want to cripple the world create a banking problem, oh we have one and hence the budget plan. If another financial crisis occurs we won't be able to fund peashooters let alone military equipment. This country needs to re-structure it's manufacturing base otherwise we will rely on every other country for everything.

  • Comment number 86.

    81. At 5:50pm on 17 Oct 2010, deanarabin wrote: 80. At 5:01pm on 17 Oct 2010, krokodil wrote: 79. At 4:43pm on 17 Oct 2010, matt-stone wrote: As a former Service personnel....... and then a rant With your views its best your out of the forces. Save it for people who will do their job and not have warped views that are at odds with this countries armed services------------------------------------------------------------------ I'm not sure what to make of your rather offensive comment to matt-stone Are you implying that we need to set up a Thought Police to purge our Armed Forces of anyone who dares to criticise them from within or indeed to root out and punish those who criticise them from without? I thought we'd seen the last of that when we got rid of Military Government here in 1660.

    Um......the armed forces are there to serve and do as their elected government asks. No to offer opinions on policy. You don't like that, then you should find alternative employment. If you find that offensive then I say......good!

  • Comment number 87.

    Only the Condemned government could authorise billions on Aircraft Carriers with no aircraft!
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Wasn't it a Labour government that signed the contracts for the carriers in the first place (along with the eye-watering get out clauses)?

    Apologies, I forgot that the previous Labour government weren't the cause of most of the problems that the Coalition are now having to deal with.
    -----------
    Well done 2 out of 2, the Labour Government did sign the contracts and avaricious greed in the form of corporate banking caused most of the problems experienced in many countries including the UK.

    Interesting that the richest 1000 people in the UK made £78,000 million last year up 30% on 2009 (Figures from that Arch Labour supporting paper the Sunday Times!) Including such self made billionaires as the Duke of Westminster ,just a coincidence that whom so ever has been the Duke of Westminster for the last 200 years has featured in the top 5 richest!)while our new improved condemned government thinks targeting the odd social security scrounger (total cost only 5% of the extra money the fat cats have raked in) will solve our financial woes.

    Perhaps if they targeted these "undeserving rich" rich rather than concentrating their intellects on how to screw money out of those who haven't got any it might generate sufficient to buy a few planes and keep a few thousand street cleaners, teachers,nurses, police officers,fire fighters, home helps, nursing home staff etc in work while forgoing the need to raise vat targeted at the poorest in the country.

    A bit of "pain sharing" would appear in order here! Or did I miss the point of the fairness agenda?

  • Comment number 88.

    Defence of the realm is safe in the hands of the coalition. They are going ahead with the plan to build two new, state of the art, aircraft carriers.
    And who knows, with their plan to scrap the Harrier, maybe one day they will have an aircraft that can land on these carriers.

  • Comment number 89.

    10. At 10:46am on 17 Oct 2010, locust wrote:
    and i'll fight side by side with us forces any day of the week

    Toqueville replies:
    There's a recruiting office in Times Square NYC. Can't miss it. Right under the giant Coca Cola sign. When are you going?

  • Comment number 90.

    86. At 6:52pm on 17 Oct 2010, krokodil wrote:

    Um......the armed forces are there to serve and do as their elected government asks. No to offer opinions on policy. You don't like that, then you should find alternative employment. If you find that offensive then I say......good!
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    Exactly the same defence offered by the Nazi stormtroopers after WW2.

  • Comment number 91.

    Krokodil. You are probably correct that America swung the balance in both world wars but it says nothing about the Americans and everything about the Germans. The fact that one nation could hold off so many for so long without the sheer logistic capability of the United States goes some way to proving the point that the Germans should have been top dogs perhaps. With the possible exception of Wavell the German military top brass was far better than most and only really met their match with the Good Russian Generals. Mediocre allied Generals were capable of defeating mediocre German Generals only with a superior material balance.

  • Comment number 92.

    At a time when our forces are so overstretched it is ludicrous to even think of cutting defence spending. The reported plans to cut the surface fleet and scrap the Harrier force are, if true a recipe for disaster. We are an island nation dependant on the sea for trade. They are also an open invitation to Argentina to re-invade the Falklands. As someone who has spent 26 years in the public sector I can assure you that there is plenty of waste and inefficiency in other areas which, if eliminated, could go along way to reducing the deficit. eg. A local school is having a new floodlit sports pitch put in despite the fact that there are already 2 such pitches nearby!

  • Comment number 93.

    #63 Nail hit firmly on the head.

  • Comment number 94.

    As to what should we cut in defence. How long is a piece of string? Essentially British troops have to get where they are going, the airforce has to control the air and the navy has to control its sea space.Unless we do a Switzerland and do away with regular forces which in itself will not mean there is no cost we are not going to transform a world that is starting to implode by unilaterly going neutral. Neutrality does not imply no military capability. Its rather like building a Million pound house then reverting to a cave. The house is still there. There is the option of selling the house, but does that mean that we sell the security of the country. Paradoxically Britian cannot afford to relinquish its position wether we like it or not, hence the defence system has to stay.

  • Comment number 95.

    Defence spending was a complete disaster under the dreadful New Labour government. Thank heavens that we now have a government that understands that defence does not mean sending our troops round the world to launch criminal attacks on countries like Iraq. If defence is about committing war crimes and jeopardising our country's security by provoking retaliation in response to unprovoked attacks undertaken at the behest of Israel and America, New Labour certainly got it right.

    It is wonderful to have a government to have a new goverment which has set a deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan - the sooner the better. Britain is at last beginning to get its defence right again. It is encouraging that Ed Miliband has admitted that Iraq was wrong.

    I am happy for my taxes to be spent on real defence but not on launching attacks on Muslim countries to promote the interests of evil foreigners.

    I hope that America bankrupts itself with its collosal defence spending and I think that my wishes will be fulfilled.

  • Comment number 96.

    91. At 7:20pm on 17 Oct 2010, leoRoverman wrote: Krokodil. You are probably correct that America swung the balance in both world wars but it says nothing about the Americans and everything about the Germans. The fact that one nation could hold off so many for so long without the sheer logistic capability of the United States goes some way to proving the point that the Germans should have been top dogs perhaps. With the possible exception of Wavell the German military top brass was far better than most and only really met their match with the Good Russian Generals. Mediocre allied Generals were capable of defeating mediocre German Generals only with a superior material balance

    Interesting points.....the funny thing is that the old saying about efficient germans holds no water when their war economies were totally inefficient and far below their opponents. Their generalship was second to none but their home front let them down. Today only america has the will and organisation to lead the field in armed forces.....the worlds top three air forces.....Usaf, us navy and the us air national guard.

  • Comment number 97.

    90. At 7:11pm on 17 Oct 2010, Billythefirst wrote: 86. At 6:52pm on 17 Oct 2010, krokodil wrote: Um......the armed forces are there to serve and do as their elected government asks. No to offer opinions on policy. You don't like that, then you should find alternative employment. If you find that offensive then I say......good---------------------------------------------------------------------- Exactly the same defence offered by the Naz stormtroopers after WW2

    Yep? So what's your point?

  • Comment number 98.

    #97 krok: You need to do that thing we discussed recently - you know, the one where you think.

    Is it safe to assume you've seen a good deal of active service?

  • Comment number 99.

    I have no idea how much to spend on defence but I would like to know how much taxpayer's money was used on the birthday party for Thatcher at Number 10 last week.

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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