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Former British national security adviser urges London to increase defence spending

Former British national security adviser urges London to increase defence spending
12 Apr 2024 09:29

DINA MAHMOUD (LONDON)

Former British National Security Advisor, Sir Mark Sedwill, has urged the United Kingdom to boost its defence spending to confront global challenges and augment European military prowess, as this strategy would empower Europe to safeguard itself from potential threats without over-reliance on transatlantic allies.

Sedwill, who held the position of UK Ambassador to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, and later served as NATO’s top civilian representative in Afghanistan within the same timeframe, asserted that it is imperative for Britain to escalate its defence budget to wartime levels.

The esteemed former official and diplomat highlighted the necessity of safeguarding British and Western interests, particularly those of NATO members, amid escalating crises such as those in Ukraine and Gaza, along with competition from global powers. He advocated for steps to modernise European militaries, including achieving synergy and coherence among the various military branches under NATO, dismantling traditional barriers between land, sea, and air forces, enhancing Western defence industry capabilities to wartime standards, and maximising the output of European arms factories.

Sedwill contrasted the United States’ defence spending, which approximates 3.5% of its Gross National Income (GNI), with the average expenditure of its European counterparts, noting it to be roughly half. He observed that Britain, despite being NATO’s second-largest military power, only considers increasing its defence budget when economically feasible, even though this expenditure accounts for merely 2.25% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Serving as the British National Security Advisor from 2017 to 2020, Sedwill emphasised that the UK’s continuation of such practices is an unaffordable luxury in today’s global landscape. He advocated for a comprehensive approach that leverages soft, smart, and hard power, urging Britain to allocate at least 4% of its GNI to defence, an increase of 1% from the current rate, while also stressing the importance of significantly strengthening its security, intelligence, and diplomatic efforts alongside its defense capabilities.

In his commentary for the British online newspaper “The Independent,” Sedwill suggested that Britain’s initiative would set a precedent for other European leaders, particularly NATO members, to undertake similar commitments at the forthcoming NATO summit in Washington, DC, in July.

He also proposed that the next NATO Secretary-General’s mandate should encompass achieving these goals related to amplifying the alliance’s military capabilities and defence investments.

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