Former service chiefs warn of funding 'mess'
Britain's defence policy is a mess, leading to service cuts despite threats which are acknowledged to be on the increase, according to a damning new report by former top-ranking service chiefs.
The UK National Defence Association (UKNDA), a pressure group campaigning in support of the armed forces, said the country is facing a perilous situation without an urgent rethink on spending.
The group says the UK is facing "a multiplicity of threats" with an "incoherent" defence policy in which "billions are spent on aircraft carriers with no aircraft" while military personnel are being made redundant in their thousands.
Their report, Funding Defence, which is authored by a group of retired senior military commanders, endorses the recent call by defence secretary Philip Hammond for resources to be diverted from welfare.
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It says: "Defence needs steady and predictable funding," and argues it is "a sound investment" for the taxpayer, and "an excellent economic stimulus that can create and sustain employment in industries and communities throughout Britain."
According to the report, there are a number of nonsensical outcomes to the recent defence cuts.
It says the Royal Navy will have no manned aircraft carriers until the end of the decade, which it says is "a massive gap in capability".
There are also "too few supply ships, minesweepers and amphibious landing ships, too few sailors and insufficient stores, weapons and ammunition to sustain prolonged combat operations".
It continues: "In a conflict exceeding six months we could sustain only six surface combat ships on continuous operations."
The Ministry of Defence rebuffed the claims, saying spending in real terms would increase.
"Far from being under-funded, the UK has the world's fourth biggest defence budget and we will be spending nearly £160 billion on equipment and equipment support over the next decade – a real terms rise of £3 billion between 2015 and 2020.
"The Defence Secretary has been clear that he will vigorously be making the case for defence, including that the assumptions we currently hold remain valid as part of future Spending Review discussions.
"For the first time in a generation the MoD has a balanced budget and the multi-billion-pound defence deficit that the Government inherited in 2010 has been eliminated."