The head of the army in US and chief of staff, General Raymond Odierno expressed serious concern about the diminishing allocation of fund to defense in the budget of the UK. He said it would highly impact the capacity of the British forces.
He was “very concerned” about the dwindling proportion of country’s wealth employed for the military purposes, and warned of serious implications in the long term. General Raymond further added that the trend continuing may lead to British units being compelled to work under US ranks instead of alongside them.
David Cameron has been increasingly under pressure from senior military officials and Tory MPs to meet the NATO target of spending minimum of 2% of GDP for defense purposes beyond 2016. With sharp cut in defense expenditure continuing after the elections in May, George Osborne expressed apprehension privately about the spending on defense being maintained on that level. Liam Fox, former secretary of defense, said that he along with other Tory MPs would hardly be able to accept the defense spending falling below the threshold. In an interview with The Telegraph, Odierno revealed that he would be lying if he said he was unconcerned about the cut in defense expenditure of Britain.
He further added that British army division has worked alongside American division for long, but with steep cuts in defense expenditure in Britain, the British army may have to operate under US battalion. He expressed need on the part of Britain to address priorities in such a manner that facilitated working together. It was all about, he added, having a partner who shares values and threat perception. It needed, he said, a multinational approach to tackle the issue of threat to human lives everywhere, and outlined a key role for Britain in the pursuit. General Sir Peter Wall, former head of the British army, called for the prominent political parties to announce election manifesto commitments on defense expenditure. He revealed that the proposed cut of 1.8% in defense spending could seriously hamper military training programmes and procurement of defense equipments. He also emphasized the need to meet the commitment at NATO summit of spending at least 2% of GDP on defense. Gerald Howarth, former Tory defense minister, reminded that Cameron had been castigating other countries for not maintaining the defense expenditure level at 2% of GDP, and it was highly anomalous not maintaining that level himself.
A defense spokesman, however, reiterated government’s resolve to allocate at least 2% of GDP for defense, and that a review on defense spending would be made. He added that during the next decade, British government was committed to spend £163bn on equipments, and keep Britain strong and safe with such acquisitions as more surveillance fighters, strike fightrs, hunter killer submarines, two aircraft carriers, and armored vehicles of the highest quality.