Tuesday, May 01, 2018

The Slow, Sad Decline of the British Military

via Defense Aerospace.
Britain’s military should be growing. It’s not. The Royal Air Force celebrated its 100th birthday last week with a gala program at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington. No one does pomp better than the British, but the presence of the Queen’s Colour Squadron had a larger purpose: to solemnize the reformation of 617 Squadron, the famous Dambusters, now flying the stealthy F-35.

Those 16 fighter jets are among the best in the world. Given how few planes the RAF has, they’d better be. As a nation, Brexit Britain is stepping out of the shadow of the EU. But as a military power, it’s stepped into the shade.

The defense of a nation is about a lot of things. But ultimately, it takes money. One of Britain’s proudest boasts is that it’s one of the few members of NATO to meet the alliance’s target of spending a minimum of 2 percent of GDP on defense. By NATO’s figures, the U.K. spent 2.12 percent in 2017, more than any other member of NATO except Greece and the United States. But NATO’s accounting includes military pensions as defense spending. An alternative estimate, by the respected International Institute for Strategic Studies, found that Britain missed NATO’s minimum target in 2017 for the second year in a row—this time, by over $1 billion.

The rot set in years ago. As far back as 1998, in the second year of Tony Blair’s Labour government, a review of Britain’s defenses acknowledged that “the so-called ‘peace dividend’ from the ending of the Cold War has already been taken.” Yet while he waged wars in the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and Iraq, Blair continued to cut the defense budget, which fell from 3.5 percent of GDP in 1996 to 2.3 percent in 2007.

That was lower than at any point in the 20th century except 1930, 1932, and 1933—the depths of the Great Depression. 
Story here. 

Things are good for the moment but bad in the future for the US defense budget...

Things have been horrible for the Brits since Tony Blair.

I would have never guessed.  They've done some remarkable things on a shoestring but it's bound to catch up with them...sooner or later it's inevitable...

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