Cameron’s response to ISIS: £2bn military boost, 2,000 new spies, double drone fleet
Cameron promised to increase the current military budget by an additional £2 billion ($3 billion), which is to be spent by the Special Air Service (SAS) and other special units over the next five years to expand their capabilities.
In his annual address to the Lord Mayor of London’s Banquet, the prime minister justified increasing the military’s budget by citing Britain’s commitment to NATO’s 2 percent of GDP target for defense spending.
The extra cash will be spent on new weapons and vehicles, which could include helicopters as well as protective equipment.
There will be “more money every year” for drones, fighter aircraft, and cyber-defenses, he said. In fact, the UK’s drone fleet will double in size.
“We’ve seen how vital drones are in the fight against IS [Islamic State, also known as ISIS/ISIL], so with this extra money we are doubling our fleet of drones. We know we need the ability to carry out air strikes, so this money will provide for more fighter aircraft. We want to increase the capabilities of our brilliant special forces, so there will be a £2 billion program of new investments,” Cameron said.
The new funds will allow elite security and intelligence agencies to add an additional 1,900 new officers – representing a 15 percent increase at MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
More aviation security officers will also be hired to evaluate the level of security at overseas airports. The extra aviation security officers will “provide regular assessments of security at airports around the world and with the capacity to ‘surge’ as necessary in response to an incident such as the MetroJet crash.”
The proposal comes as the UK banned all British flights in and out of Sharm el-Sheikh airport in Egypt following the crash of a Russian A321 passenger plane on October 31 that killed all 224 people on board. An onboard bomb explosion is one of the causes being considered by the investigation.
During the speech, Cameron also noted that British security forces had been able to foil seven terrorist plots against the UK in the last year alone.
He stressed that IS targets not only Westerners, but also Muslims, citing Thursday’s attack in Beirut that targeted a Shia mosque, as well as an attack at a funeral in Baghdad.
Cameron added that the UK should join the international air strike campaign in Syria, calling for the country to do more there, while at the same time stressing that a “few extra bombs and missiles” will not change the situation on the ground.
The prime minister made his comments immediately on arriving home from the G20 summit in Turkey, where leaders discussed the fight against Islamic State in the wake of the brutal attack on Paris that killed 129 people.
The new funding proposal will be officially published next week in the in the five-year defense and security review.