'We must increase spending' says Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood
Mr Ellwood said he is "deeply concerned" that the UK does not appreciate its Armed Forces and urged the PM to find the cash to ensure they are properly funded.
His comments come after the report (highlighted below) published by the Public Accounts Committee which warned that the Ministry of Defence "simply does not have enough money to buy all the equipment it needs".
This is the latest of several influential calls to increase defence spending in the light of the changing world order. In Mr Ellwood's words: 'The world is getting more dangerous. Britain must be able to step forward - we will only do that if we invest in the full spectrum of capabilities."
An important and largely encouraging speech even though The Secretary of State is still sticking to the insufficient spending target of 2% of GDP.
It prompted this comment from the Chair of the Defence Select Committee:
"The speech rightly recognises that new threats we face, in cyberspace and from asymmetric warfare, must not blind us to the revival of traditional dangers from aggressive nation-states seeking to establish and consolidate spheres of influence, control and domination.
This time last year, the Defence Committee warned that the plan to scrap our amphibious assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, fifteen years early, was ‘militarily illiterate’ and ‘totally at odds with strategic reality’. In the autumn, the Defence Secretary insisted that they must be saved, and now we see them – together with the proposed new Littoral Strike Ships – at the heart of a Littoral Strike Group strategic concept.
It is a profoundly welcome development, and shows what can be done when Treasury-led attempts to hollow-out the armed forces are successfully resisted."
the intractable problem
The Public Accounts Select Committee has concluded that the Ministry of Defence must urgently “stop, delay and scale back” some parts of its spending plans to help plug an “affordability gap” of up to £15bn in the department’s equipment budget over the next 10 years. The Chair of the Committee, Meg Hillier, said: “The MoD simply cannot afford everything it says it needs.”
Various issues arise from this. The most important of these is the long standing principle that Defence and Security are the first priorities of government. The Government has the responsibility of determining what the threats are and making sure that we have the necessary defence against them. It is obvious that there have to be financial restraints, but the overall decisions on defence cannot be left to the “bean counters”.
Recent defence reviews have concentrated too much on trying to cut the defence budget. The, so called, “Modernising Defence Programme” has been a great disappointment, described as a damp squib by most commentators. Let’s have a proper defence review detailing what is really needed. We can then decide what we can afford and where the priorities lie. If more resources are needed they must be found. In the meantime, a useful exercise would be to investigate whether the MOD’s procurement arrangements are fit for purpose.
What we cannot do is to “stop, delay and scale back” progress to increase defence capability when defence experts agree that our present defences are inadequate.
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