British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has confirmed a senior “US Official” will be directly involved in the upcoming strategic defence review which will look at all aspects of Britain’s defence. The confirmation comes as US President Barack Obama expressed his concerns over the the UK’s continuing defence cuts which look set to bring defence spending below the 2% of the GDP that NATO membership requires; a situation it must be said is not unique to the UK.
Fallon also confirmed that the UK were liaising with the US Department of Defense over Britain’s role in the international community which in turn will dictate how Britain’s defence spending will be undertaken over the coming years. US Defense Secretary, Ashton B. Carter, warned against further spending cuts to the UK armed forces declaring;
It would be a great loss to the world if [the UK] now took action that would indicate disengagement.”
With more and more NATO countries either unable or unwilling to meet the 2% requirement of NATO membership the US are understandably nervous about one of its biggest allies reducing its spending further especially in light of an increasingly aggressive Russia and the ongoing operations against Islamic State forces. At present only 8 of the 28 members of NATO spend 2% of their GDP on defence including, for the time being, the UK which is the second biggest spender on defence after the United States.
With the UK economy growing it might seem like meeting the target would be easier but in fact it’s not. If anything it’s more difficult as growth requires government investment in order to for it to be maintained. Add to this the financial uncertainty of Britain’s future regarding EU membership and even Scotland looking at a possible second referendum on independence means that never before has the future for the UK looked so uncertain and in such times, unless an immediate foreign threat to the UK appears, defence spending is going to fall low on the list of priorities.