As the sluggish world economy is forcing governments worldwide to trim budgets, countries with heavy defense budgets are cutting military spending. The U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy have all announced significant military cutbacks.
The U.S. Defense Department announced last August it would implement sweeping cuts to the Department of Defense, including the closure of the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).
More recently, Britain’s Prime Minster David Cameron unveiled the strategic defence review, which outlines cuts to the country’s defense by 8 percent during the next four years, BBC news reported. Britain’s RAF and navy will lose 5,000 jobs each, the Army 7,000 jobs and the Ministry of Defence 25,000 civilian staff.
In addition, Britain’s Harrier jump jets, the Navy’s flagship HMS Ark Royal and planned Nirod spy planes will be cut. Cutting the Ark Royal means no planes can fly from British aircraft carriers until 2019. Overall, the cuts mean a savings of £4.7 billion for the Ministry of Defense, which will also sell off “unnecessary assets”, renegotiate contracts and cut overheads.
Britain still intends to maintain the fourth largest military in the world and meet Nato’s target of spending 2 percent of the country’s GDP on defense. A “large well-equipped” Army would remain, which would consist of 95,500 personnel by 2015, 7,000 fewer than today. Cameron stressed support for troops in Afghanistan will not be cut.
Meanwhile in Germany, the Defense Ministry was advised by a special German commission to restructure Germany’s military, the New York Times reported. The recommendations suggest cutting the staff of the Defense Ministry by half, close several army bases and reduce the armed forces from 250,000 to 180,000.
The suggested cuts are in response to the Germany Chancellor’s intention to cut government spending by as much as €80 billion, or $111 billion, by 2013. German’s Defense Ministry, which currently spends about €30 billion a year, was told to contribute €9.3 billion over the next three years toward that goal.
Germany is looking toward procurement projects to cut costs like the Tiger and NH90 transport helicopter. The country is also looking to reduce the number of A400M military transport aircraft, a joint enterprise with other European countries.
France plans to cut €3.5 billion in military spending by 2013 and Italy has decided to buy fewer frigates, according to the New York Times.