Over the Horizon: Britain’s Defense Cuts and U.S. Security

Over the Horizon: Britain’s Defense Cuts and U.S. Security

To kick off this weekly column, which will focus on national security, I thought I'd begin by introducing myself. My name is Robert Farley, and I work as an assistant professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. I write at Information Dissemination and Lawyers, Guns and Money, and have published defense-related work in several magazines. My focus is on military doctrine, maritime affairs, airpower, and anti-submarine warfare.

In particular, I am most interested in defense policymaking in the United States and the United Kingdom, which makes today a great day to start a column on national security: The United Kingdom is facing a fiscal crisis that will force drastic cuts to its defense budget, and depending on where those cuts are made, they could have a major impact on U.S. national security.

Defense Minister Liam Fox brought the crisis into the open by challenging Prime Minister David Cameron about the nature and extent of the cuts in a leaked letter. In some ways, the debate over U.K. defense spending boils down to the choice between funding what's needed today versus funding what will be needed tomorrow. Britain remains committed to the NATO operation in Afghanistan, currently supporting the deployment of 9,500 troops. Although the U.K. has dialed down its involvement in Iraq, the Royal Navy continues to support Coalition operations in the Gulf. The Royal Navy has also deployed off the coast of Somalia as part of the EU anti-piracy effort Operation Atalanta, and in support of NATO's Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean.

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