Sept. 23, 2013 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: UK National Defence Association; issued Sept. 22, 2013)
Where Is Britain Now In the Global Defence League?
Defence campaigners challenge David Cameron over his claim that the UK is the world’s fourth largest military power
The Prime Minister’s claim that Britain is a major global power with the world’s fourth largest defence budget is no more than “a shallow sound-bite”, according to the UK National Defence Association (UKNDA).
In a UKNDA Commentary entitled “The Defence Budget League Tables: False Comfort from Statistics”, co-authors Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon and Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham argue that “What matters is not what you spend but what you get for the money.”
They point out that, far from being the world’s fourth largest military power as Mr Cameron suggests, the United Kingdom is actually 31st in terms of armed forces manpower (including Reserves) and 64th in terms of “serious militarisation” when other factors such as proportion of GDP are taken into account.
Countries ranging from Israel to Singapore emerge as more serious military powers than the UK, while European nations, including France, Spain and Argentina, and even Sweden, are all ahead of Britain in the defence league table.
“Experienced, skilful and battle-hardened we may be, but we are just too few”, write ACM Graydon and Vice-Admiral Blackham, “too few in personnel, ships, aircraft and weapons.” Meanwhile, Russia and China are increasing their defence budgets and expanding their military forces, as are India, Japan, Brazil, and the Gulf States. “Why are they re-arming while we are disarming?” ask the authors of the UKNDA Commentary.
Britain’s “rudderless slide down the tables” puts our standing in the world at risk. “A nation whose armed forces are perceived as weak … cannot carry real conviction in the world.” Strategic thought has been abandoned for “short-term political expediency”. The Commentary poses the question: “How does all this affect our much-vaunted permanent place on the UN Security Council?”
The UKNDA Commentary warns that we should never again be “taken in by the politicians’ chant that all is well with the defence of the United Kingdom”.
Formed in 2007, the UKNDA is an independent group that seeks to stimulate public debate about the role of Britain’s armed forces and to provide accurate up-to-date information on the state of British military capabilities.
Click here for the full commentary (html format) on the UKNDA website.