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DEFENCE SPENDING

 

Over the last few weeks we have witnessed a succession of retired generals, admirals and former armed forces chiefs popping up one after the other in what is obviously an orchestrated campaign to tell us that we are not spending enough on our armed forces. Certainly the army is under-strength by 3,500 troops, due to growing disillusionment with prolonged deployments on dangerous missions. Yet since 1997 UK defence spending has remained steady at approximately 2.5% of GDP, higher than any other country in Europe apart from Greece. This year (2007-08) spending will be £33.4bn - second only to the United States - and according to Defence Secretary Des Browne it will see an increase of £7.7bn over the next 3 years.

More importantly, none of these former soldiers ask the key questions. What is the role of our armed forces and what are we asking our soldiers to do? Why is it that today Britain’s armed forces are deployed all over the world (see box above) when other comparable states (with the exception of the United States) are not?

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