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United Kingdom - Military Spending

The new British coalition government came to power after the inconclusive 06 May 2010 general election, which saw the ruling Labor party defeated after 13 years in power. The Conservatives, the largest polling party, and the third- party in British politics, the Liberal Democrats, formed a coalition which set its principal task as tackling the record public spending deficit, which was set to hit 153 billion pounds (about 240 billion U.S. dollars) in 2010. In July 2010 The Treasury revealed that most departments should prepare for budget cuts of up to 40 percent. However defense was told to prepare for cuts of between 10 percent and 25 percent.

A Strategic Defence Review, the first for 12 years, was ordered before the election by the outgoing Labor government. The service likely to be most affected is the army, already down to 102,700 deployable troops from 136,620 at the end of the Cold War.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) says its core budget totals about 36.9 billion pounds [$55.6 billion ]in the 2010/2011 fiscal year, spending that is ringfenced until the following year. Britain's defense outlays as a percentage of GDP declined after the Cold War. Estimated defense outlays in 2008 (the last year for which official data was available in 2010) amounted to 2.2% of GDP, half what the UK spent during its last severe economic crisis, in the late 1970s. The last time the UK spent so little on defense was in the 1930s, before the belated arms buildup against Germany.

The United Kingdom is one of the United States' closest allies, as demonstrated by its participation in OEF, its command of the first ISAF rotation in Afghanistan, and its continuing strong support for the global War on Terrorism. UK-U.S. military-to-military cooperation has no parallel. The UK also participates actively in NATO and the Partnership for Peace, and is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. British forces play major roles in NATO's conventional and nuclear force structures, as well as deploying around the world in response to regional crises and national commitments.

While, the United Kingdom's defense budget declined by a marginal 1.9 percent in real terms during 2002, its defense spending relative to GDP (2.4 percent in 2002) was the fifth highest in NATO. The UK devoted the second highest percentage of defense spending (29 percent) to NATO modernization programs (i.e., procurement, and research and development). The UK provides substantial host nation support for U.S. forces (over $133 million), almost entirely in the form of indirect contributions (i.e., waived taxes, rents and other forgone revenues). British forces form the backbone of the Allied Command Europe (ACE) Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), and provide the second largest shares of total NATO naval combat and mine countermeasures tonnage, combat aircraft capability, naval supply, tender and transport tonnage, military transport aircraft capacity and tanker aircraft fuel offload capacity.

The UK continues to implement changes called for in the 1998 Strategic Defense Review (SDR), creating a more deployable, sustainable, and flexible force. In light of the events of September 11, 2001, the UK produced a 'New Chapter' for the SDR to ensure that it possesses the right concepts, forces, and capabilities needed to confront the challenges of international terrorism and asymmetric threats. The 'New Chapter,' published in July 2002, concluded that the UK should plan to undertake a wide range of activities against terrorists overseas, and called for increased defense spending in order to improve its capabilities to engage in such operations. As a result, the UK plans to increase its defense budget by 3.7-percent over the period 2002/2003 to 2005/2006 - the biggest sustained increase in defense spending in 20 years.

The UK also contributed about 5,500 personnel to NATO operations in the Balkans for most of 2002, declining to roughly 4,900 at year's end: 1,900 in Bosnia (SFOR) and 3,000 in Kosovo (KFOR). British forces also served in UN peace operations in Cyprus, on the Iraq-Kuwait and Eritrea-Ethiopia borders, Georgia, Sierra Leone, Kosovo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and East Timor. The UK is the only ally that joined the United States in using offensive air power to enforce the northern and southern no-fly zones over Iraq.

The United Kingdom provided nearly $5.5 billion in foreign assistance in 2001 (0.3 percent of GDP). Furthermore, the UK works closely with the United States on countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, focusing especially on compliance issues. It has pledged to contribute about $750 million to the G-8 Global Partnership Initiative, and, during 2002, established a comprehensive project implementation framework for a wide range of Soviet nuclear legacy issues, including: nuclear submarine dismantlement and management of spent fuel, re-employment of proliferation-sensitive skills in closed 'nuclear cities,' improving the operational safety of nuclear power plants, addressing the social consequences of nuclear power plant closure, and physical security of facilities containing sensitive material of interest to terrorists. The UK budgeted 32 million for these projects.



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