Home » Theresa May » How Spending More on Defence Can Cost the UK Less

How Spending More on Defence Can Cost the UK Less

by John Brian Shannon

On June 23, 2016 the United Kingdom held an historic referendum so that voters could decide whether they wanted to leave the European Union governance architecture and over 52% of UK voters elected to “Leave” the EU.

Subsequent divorce negotiations between the two sides have been sporadic with short bursts of progress.

In recent days, UK Prime Minister Theresa May suggested to EU negotiators that a figure of £40 billion would be an appropriate amount for the UK to pay the European Union as a sort of “divorce fee” to allow the UK to leave while still gaining a favorable post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union.

However, the day after PM May suggested the £40 billion divorce payment, her government tabled an autumn budget with massive budget reductions for the already cash-strapped British military, one assumes to be able to afford the unprecedented divorce bill that the UK must now pay before March 29, 2018.

This blog post discusses the pros and cons of UK Ministry of Defence cuts and suggests a better way to afford the Brexit divorce bill.


The Responsibility of Government

The Number One responsibility of every government in the world is the protection of the country’s citizens and the sovereignty of the national borders. Everything else by definition, must be of lower importance. That’s how countries work.

Yes, even the UK’s cherished and highly ranked National Health Service (NHS) funding must fall to second place behind the safety and security of the country — as the NHS could (if worst came to worst) access significant billions in funding via corporate sponsorship — an option not open to the military.


How to Determine Military Funding

The size, composition and funding of the UK military MUST be determined by its overall mission — not arbitrary decisions by bureaucrats. Full stop.

(NOTE 1) Long-term stable defence funding is far better than generous amounts one year, followed by low funding the next (due to arbitrary budgetary decisions not based on actual military need) and then, who knows what funding they might get the year after? It’s the absolute worst way to fund a military. Pencil-pushing bureaucrats might as well be working for the enemy at that point.

(NOTE 2) This blog post isn’t “for” or “against” Theresa May or Philip Hammond, it’s a general statement on how to best fund any military, anywhere.

(NOTE 3) This blog post is based solely on the opinion of its author, although any military officer in the world would agree were they to view it from the UK perspective.


So, what is the mission – in order of priority?

  1. Absolutely 100% protection of the land, sea and airspace around the UK.
  2. NATO commitment.
  3. Commonwealth mutual aid.
  4. United States mutual aid.
  5. Potential Commonwealth member mutual aid.
  6. Only UN Security Council approved missions (and never any unapproved foreign missions)
  7. Creation of a HUGE civil engineering department, on par with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which build many of America’s roads, bridges, dikes, levees, ports and other infrastructure too important to be left to corporations where profit makes the final decisions. Oh, by the way, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers saves the American taxpayer more money than it costs when compared to having U.S. infrastructure projects built by corporations. The UK has missed “windows of opportunities bigger than the sky” by not building critical national infrastructure using the UK military under a USACE-style system, and it has cost multi-billions more that it should.
  8. Humanitarian assistance delivered to any natural disaster zone or human-caused crisis anywhere in the world.

Conclusion

Military forces perform better when their mission is clearly defined, when they have stable funding (and once the amounts have been promised by the government, untouchable) and have very clearly defined powers.

Tampering with this age-old formula for success is the surest way to help any military fail in its appointed role, and will work to demoralize the troops and cost the taxpayers much more than by using universally accepted practice.


  • To watch a segment from LBC’s The Nigel Farage Show on the topic, click here.
  • To read a related Westmonster.com blog, click here.

 


3 Comments

  1. Tim Walker says:

    Beyond the immediate vicinity of the UK, what are the country’s interests? If the UK is an island/maritime trading country, then the Royal Navy should have high priority. Considering the “missile-centric” forces of the Russians and the Chinese, the Royal Navy will need long range anti-ship missiles. Another consideration-ships becoming, in part, drone carriers.

    • Hi Tim,

      You raise valid points.

      The best answer I can give is that the UK must have the absolute best diplomacy in the world so that we never wind up fighting our important trading partners, who after all, are important to our economic success.

      Having said that, at any moment a coup could conceivably be staged in any country and we may not have months or years to ‘gear up’ to defend our interests as Britain did from 1936-1940 (and even while the war was on, Britain continued to ramp-up its war-centric manufacturing base) as these days, things happen instantly.

      I certainly agree that the RN must be the largest part of the UK military as it must span the globe, most particularly the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.

      (I can see no reason for the UK to operate in the North Pacific, and indeed, operating there will only divert precious resources away from helping to protect our important Commonwealth member nations and our important shipping routes)

      The UK needs four aircraft carriers (with F-35’s, or F-18 SuperHornets, or SAAB Gripens) plus one large helicopter carrier (Queen Elizabeth class) for humanitarian relief efforts and for expeditionary force missions.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Cheers! JBS

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