Britain will lose thousands of troops, reduce its ability to fight complex missions like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and delay a program to upgrade its nuclear defenses, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Tuesday.
Outlining the first defense review since 1998 — intended both to sweep away strategies crafted before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the US and to help clear the country’s crippling national debt — Cameron said 17,000 troops, a fleet of jets and an aging aircraft carrier would all be sacrificed.
Cameron’s government has hinted for months that the cuts would be severe — and sweeping. Communities around the country watched the announcement nervously, worried about jobs and the impact on local communities in a time of economic hardship.
The numbers were stark. Naval warships, 25,000 civilian staff and a host of bases will also be lost, while the country’s stockpile of nuclear warheads will be trimmed from 160 to 120.
Two new aircraft carriers will be built at a cost of ￡5 billion (US$8 billion) — but one will effectively by mothballed and another won’t have any British fighter jets to transport until 2019.
Instead, Britain will invest in its much admired special forces and develop expertise on cyber threats to secure the country’s status as a major global power, Cameron said.
“Britain has punched above its weight in the world, and we should have no less ambition for our country in the decades to come,” Cameron told the House of Commons.
He said funding for the mission in Afghanistan, which does not come from the regular military budget, would not be trimmed, promising extra resources for troops there.
Military cutbacks come a day before British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s long-anticipated announcement of a government-wide program to drastically cut department budgets and welfare bills. The largest cuts to public spending since World War II are aimed at virtually eliminating Britain’s deficit, which stands at over 10 percent of GDP.
Osborne’s announcement will provide details of Britain’s spending plans for its intelligence agencies, though Cameron confirmed there will be an extra ￡500 million in funding to counter cyber threats.
Cameron said the overhaul wasn’t just aimed at cutting the military budget — saying he was breaking decisively with the strategy of predecessors Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
He criticized the previous government’s decision to sign contracts for two new aircraft carriers — explaining that canceling the program would have cost more than building the vessels.
“That is the legacy we inherited, an appalling legacy the British people have every right to be angry about,” he said.
He said there would be an 8 percent cut to the annual ￡37 billion defense budget over four years — but insisted Britain’s spending on defense would remain above a NATO-demanded benchmark of 2 percent of GDP.
Cameron said some military bases would be closed — though he didn’t specify which, leaving communities anxious.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable