Should we be spending more, or less, on our armed forces?
Cuts to the UK’s armed forces may leave them unable to fulfil required tasks after 2015, a report by MPs has warned.
The Commons defence committee rejected the prime minister’s assurance of a “full spectrum” defence capability.
The committee warned that without firm commitments to improved funding in the very near future, politicians risked “failing” the country’s military.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the idea that the military was not being funded for its role was “not true”.
Last year’s strategic defence and security review (SDSR) outlined the future shape and size of the UK’s armed forces.
It said Army numbers were to be reduced by 7,000, and the Royal Navy and RAF by 5,000 each.
And it saw the cancellation of equipment including Nimrod MRA4 reconnaissance planes and the early withdrawal of HMS Ark Royal and Harrier jump-jets.
The committee said the National Security Strategy, also unveiled last autumn, was in danger of becoming no more than a “wish list” unless the necessary money was committed to deliver the future armed forces envisaged for 2020 and beyond.
Last month it was announced that spending on equipment would increase by one per cent above inflation each year after 2015, to pave the way for the so-called Future Force 2020.
However, the committee said it was “not convinced that, given the current financial climate and the drawdown of capabilities arising from the SDSR, UK armed forces will be able do what is asked of them after 2015”.
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It noted “mounting concern” that the military was falling below the minimum capacity needed to fulfil current commitments, let alone tasks it may face between 2015 and 2020, when ministers acknowledge there will be “capability gaps”.
And it said plans to increase funding after 2015 were merely “government aspiration, not government policy”.