After his government promised last week to hit North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) spending targets, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said yesterday (July 12) that he wanted more of the military budget to be spent on tackling Islamic extremism, citing special forces, spy planes and drones as probable priorities.
The statement said that Cameron hoped that the Strategic Defense and Security Review, which is supposed to conclude this fall, would prioritize protection from evolving threats, such as terrorism, extremism and cyberattacks.
Government sources said he wanted the armed forces to concentrate on countering the threat from an “increasingly aggressive” Russian Federation as well as the danger of cyber attack.
Political correspondent Robin Brant reports.
The Prime Minister instructed defense chiefs to spend the extra money doing “more to counter the threat posed by Isil”. That’s why it is right that we spend 2% of our GDP on defence because this investment helps to keep us safe.
Cameron said: “It’s about making sure we are safe in a very unstable and risky world, and because we have a strong economy we are able to make the commitment to spending more over and above inflation on defence, as much potentially as £6bn more between now and 2020”.
This, he added, could “include more spy planes, drones and special forces”.
The invitation is a further sign that House of Cameron wants to ask the Commons again to allow British air strikes in Syria, it asserted.
However, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne pledged that the country would maintain its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending target of 2 percent of GDP through the end of the decade, when he announced the country’s defense budget last week.
The RAF’s jets and drones are part of the coalition attacking IS in Iraq, but in Syria the drones are limited to a surveillance role – although ministers have begun setting out the case to extend the bombing campaign to the terror group’s strongholds in that country. Since then, the UK has increased its drone count to 657, and the new plans should see that number dramatically increase.
Separately, Cameron has invited Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the opposition Labour party, and its defence spokesman Vernon Coaker to a National Security Council meeting on Tuesday to discuss the threat posed by Islamic State.
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