Is the United Kingdom standing down as a major player in world affairs? That is the implication of this report in the Telegraph on cuts in spending projected by the Ministry of Defence:
In the most significant changes to Britain’s defences since the post-Suez review of 1957, ministers and officials plan to scrap large parts of the Armed Forces.
The Services will lose up to 16,000 personnel, hundreds of tanks, scores of fighter jets and half a dozen ships, under detailed proposals passed to The Daily Telegraph.
But the RAF will bear the brunt of the planned cuts. The Air Force will lose 7,000 airmen – almost one sixth of its total staff – and 295 aircraft. The cuts will leave the Force with fewer than 200 fighter planes for the first time since 1914. In addition, the Navy will lose two submarines, three amphibious ships and more than 100 senior officers, along with 2,000 sailors and marines.
It sounds as though the overall spending cuts may be a done deal, but specific implementation by the services is not. Still, the big picture appears pretty grim:
If implemented, the cuts will mean that Britain will almost certainly depart the world stage as a major military power and become what military chiefs call a “medium-scale player”.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman comments:
The Defence Secretary has made clear that tough decisions will need to be made but the complex process of a Strategic Defence and Security Review will be concluded in the autumn and speculation at this stage about its outcome is entirely unfounded.