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20 Oct, 2010 13:56

UK defense cuts no threat to NATO capability – security analyst

The UK’s decision to cut its defense budget by $5 billion should not spark concern in Washington over the UK’s involvement in NATO, says David Burke, from Jane's Strategic Advisory Services.

The important thing to point out is that the cuts to the defense budget in the UK are still going to meet the NATO two per cent minimum,” Burke said, adding that the cut amounts to eight per cent of the entire budget – two per cent less than anticipated.

“In terms of capability, the army is not being reduced very much in terms of the operational realities. The US should not worry too much about the UK,” Burke said referring to Washington’s concern over UK’s NATO capability.

Burke also said the cuts are unlikely to effect UK’s involvement in Afghanistan.

“Let’s not forget that the reduction in personnel is not going to happen until 2015, at which point [UK’s] Ministry of Defense hopes to be finishing up in Afghanistan.”

On Wednesday, the UK government announced further plans to slash public spending by $160 billion and cut approximately half a million public sector jobs – a move that has caused public outrage.

Thousands have taken to the streets to oppose the measures.

However, Dr. Richard Wellings, from the UK Institute of Economic Affairs, says the cuts are not only appropriate, but possibly too mild.

By 2014-15 overall government spending will only have fallen by about 3 percent,” Wellings said, referring to the projected effect of the cuts. “So, this is actually a very tiny cut. (UK Chancellor George Osborne, who proposed the cuts……) should have gone further.”

Wellings also called Mr. Osborne’s decision to rely on future economic growth in calculating the deficit “a big gamble.”