PA: "PM Intervenes To Limit Defence Cuts"

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by soleil, Oct 16, 2010.

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  1. "Prime Minister David Cameron has personally intervened to limit cuts to the defence budget in next week's comprehensive spending review.

    Chancellor George Osborne had ordered the Ministry of Defence to find cuts of at least 10% as part of his drive to eliminate the UK's structural budget by the end of the Parliament, but Defence Secretary Liam Fox has fought a tough rearguard action to protect the military in the hardest-fought battle of the spending round.

    MoD sources confirmed on Friday night that a deal had been reached, describing it as "a settlement we can work with". And it emerged that Mr Cameron spoke up personally for the Armed Forces, insisting that they had to be given a budget which allowed them to do the job.

    It is now understood that the MoD is now facing a reduction of less than 10% to its £37 billion annual budget on Wednesday, when Mr Osborne unveils a CSR which will usher in the deepest cuts in public spending of modern times.

    The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Cameron stepped in after the new head of the Army, General Sir Peter Wall, warned him that excessive cuts would threaten Britain's mission in Afghanistan. The Chief of General Staff was reported to have told Downing Street he would not accept cuts in Army numbers and training which would hamper the Afghan operation.

    Official sources would not give any figures for the settlement finally reached between Mr Osborne and Dr Fox. Some senior military officers feared that they would be asked to absorb reductions in their budgets of as much as 20%.

    BBC Two's Newsnight reported on Friday that the Royal Navy will get its two new aircraft carriers, which were widely seen to be at risk from the cuts. But the number of Joint Strike Fighter F-35 jet planes which the new ships will carry is to be cut from 138 to 40, said the programme.

    Meanwhile, the Navy's fleet of larger ships, such as frigates, will be cut from 24 to 16. And the Army will face a 7,000 cut in manpower and a reorganisation into five combat brigades of 6,000 troops each, down from the current eight. The reorganisation will be made possible by the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and remaining bases in Germany.

    According to Newsnight, a late draft of the National Security Review - due for publication on Monday - identifies the greatest threats facing the United Kingdom as terrorist attacks from groups such as al Qaida and cyber-attacks on vital computer networks.

    Military conflict with another state is listed only fourth, behind natural disasters, and the document states that the UK's future strategy will be to seek to prevent conventional wars, while retaining the ability to respond to military threats".

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