The Officer March/April 2011 : Page-22

capitol Hill connEction Snowball EffEct ElizabEth CoChran lEgislativE assistant International defense cuts could create a security vacuum. purred by the international financial crisis, U.S. allies continue making defense cuts as adversaries increase defense spending. Additionally, U.S. officials are in the throes of a debate over the defense budget, how much to cut, what should be cut, and when cutting should begin. Among allies, perhaps the most talked about and most significant cuts have occurred in the United Kingdom, which has cut 8 percent of its overall defense budget in addition to an across-the-government cut of about 20 percent or more. France plans to slash defense over the next three years by 3.6 billion euros ($4.8 billion). Germany decided to slash 8.4 billion euros ($11.4 million) over the same period and has ceased its conscription program. The Netherlands plans to cut 1 billion euros from its defense budget. Taiwan has cut its 2011 budget by $200 million. Other nations cutting their defense include Italy by 10 percent and Spain for the third year in a row by 3.5 percent. Furthermore, Japan set its defense budget at 23.39 trillion yen ($28.7 billion), cut ground forces, and reduced its number of tanks. Japan’s National Defense Program Guideline, endorsed by the country’s security council and cabinet, also emphasized great concern for China’s military growth in the region. Aside from defense cuts, other allies face future financial difficulties. For example, Greece received 110 billion euros ($150 billion) from the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund months ago. More recently, the EU granted Ireland an 80 to 90 billion pound ($129 billion to $145 billion) bailout. And in recent months, heavy borrowing by Spain and Portugal indicates they could follow a similar path. Furthermore, the EU’s European Defense Agency froze its defense budget at 30.5 million euros ($40.3 million). According to Bloomberg , NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stated at the Lisbon Summit, held in November, that “the Europeans should also invest a sufficient amount of money in defense. Otherwise the common European defense and security policy will just be a paper tiger, to speak bluntly.” “The inherent danger in these defense cuts is the void created amid continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Concurrently, as allies cut back, many adversaries are building up their armed forces. Russia plans incremental defense spending increases starting in 2011 with $19.2 billion, $24.3 billion in 2012, and then $38.8 billion in 2013. China has reportedly increased its budget by 7.5 percent. Also, China has made striking cuts to its exports of rare earth metals, which are critical for the production of smart bombs, laser-targeting systems, night-vision goggles, and silent technology used in helicopter blades. Ally South Korea plans to increase its defense budget by nearly 5.8 percent in 2011, which is partially in response to North Korean attacks last year on Yeonpyeong Island and the sinking of the navy vessel ROKS Cheonan , which resulted in 50 deaths. Despite the budget challenges, more countries continue to establish cooperative agreements. Japan plans to enhance cooperation with the United States, South Korea, and Australia. And 11 EU countries have signed on to an agreement to launch an unmanned maritime systems program to work on mine-resistant countermeasures and other naval missions. Poland intends to join the Multinational Space-Based Imaging System program, which includes Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Spain. The United Kingdom and France have established a defense partnership, which includes a joint military force and closer nuclear research. Certain allies, though small in number, plan defense increases. Norway’s defense budget will increase by 3.5 percent based on rising oil revenues, and Poland will raise its defense budget by 7.1 percent. Yet this does not come close to compensating for the dozen or so making reductions, especially considering that the United Kingdom and France comprise the majority of the total defense spending in Europe and are next in line after the United States in defense spending. An American strategy that relies upon allies to backfill operational support creates a doubled risk at a time when so many are cutting armed forces, bearing in mind ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, growing threats in the Pacific, and enduring terrorist threats around the globe.  22 the O fficer / M arch –a pril 2011

Previous Page  Next Page

Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here