Former defence chiefs say MoD “disingenuous” over military spending

Written by Richard Johnstone on 10 May 2017 in News

Letter dismisses government's claim that it meets 2% NATO defence spending target as “accounting deception”

Ministry of Defence Photo: PA

Senior former military figures have said the Ministry of Defence is being “disingenuous” over levels of military spending and using an “accounting deception” to show the UK has met the 2% spending target.

A letter in The Sun signed by 25 military figures, including four former defence chiefs, called on the next government to properly fund the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The signatories, who include former chief of the defence staff Sir David Richards, ex-commander of the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina Sir Michael Rose, former chief of the air staff Sir Michael Graydon and former first sea lord Michael Boyce, said the review had “charted a path towards our future security” at a time of increasing risk.

“But the necessary funding is simply not there to give it substance,” they warned.

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According to the chiefs, government's claim that it spends 2% of GDP on defence – in line with a target set by NATO in 2014 – was “widely criticised as an accounting deception”. According to the letter, “most analysts agree core defence expenditure for hard military power is well below 2%”.

In addition, the fall in the value of the pound following the Brexit vote would make buying military equipment more expensive, which could threaten the purchase of aircrafts, upgrading Apache helicopter and the buying missiles for submarines.

However, responses by the MoD to questions about the defence budget “have been disingenuous, quoting irrelevant financial statistics”, they said,

“The armed forces are having to seek further very damaging savings in manpower, support and training at a time when the likelihood of combat operations is increasing,” the chiefs stated. “These realities must be faced. They have been largely kept from public debate.”

It concluded that the MoD must fund the SDSR properly, adding that “if this means a commitment to increase expenditure over the lifetime of the parliament, do it”.

In a response to the letter, the MoD insisted the defence budget is rising from £36bn to £40bn by the end of the decade.

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