Defence budget: Nadia Jama criticises military spending
Changes to the military include the suspension of Navy Reservists for the first time until April next year, the Telegraph reported. The move has been brought into force by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a bid to cover the £13 billion “black hole” that was passed onto Defence Secretary Ben Wallace when he took over last year.
Mr Wallace highlighted the issue during a Conservative Home fringe event at the party’s online conference earlier this year.
He said: “It is a matter of public record that we have inherited a black hole in defence of £13billion which needs to be found in the next four years – that’s a National Audit Office figure and that’s something we are going to have to see what we can do to deal with.”
The MoD will save a further £2million by not sending HMS Prince of Wales to the US next year for key training that will now be completed in British waters.
A further £8 million will be saved for the Army and £750,000 for the Navy thanks to a civil servant recruitment freeze that will last until the spring.
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Former First Sealord Admiral Lord West criticised the suspension of Naval Reservists, labelling it “shortsighted”.
He told the Telegraph: “It’s a bad message for the reservists, it sort of says ‘you’re not that important’.
“The reserves are important for us and one wants to make sure we keep them on side.”
Speaking to the Telegraph, chairman of the Defence Select Committee Tobias Ellwood echoed similar remarks, adding it will deter potential recruits from joining the reserves.
He said: “This is very sad news following the welcome announcement of increased defence spending.
“Securing savings by diminishing the reservist contribution will not just impact on overall operational capability and national resilience but do little to encourage potential recruits to sign up to the reserves.”
Last week a study by defence website Declassified revealed that Britain has the second largest military footprint in the world after the United States.
The UK has 143 permanent military bases in 42 nations, from the Falklands, central and North America to Africa, Europe and the Far East.
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However, only around 25 countries have bases with more than 100 UK military personnel.
Former First Sea Lord Admiral Lord West said Britain’s military’s presence worldwide enabled stability and ensured humanitarian needs were covered.
He said: “Global stability is very important for us. Not only does our military ensure this stability, but they do an awful lot of humanitarian work.
“The only reason aid agencies can even reach many countries is because of our military presence.
“We are the biggest European country invested in South-East Asia and the Pacific rim.
“It has been made clear that we intend to run a maritime strategy for our security and defence. We need to look after our sea lanes.
“The US is very keen for us to get involved with them to get forces into the Indo-Pacific because they feel very stretched and they want allies – as do the Australians and the Japanese.”
But former head of the British Army, Gen Lord Dannatt, said Britain’s military footprint was only half of the equation for securing influence and denounced the decision to decrease International Development by 0.2 percent.
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