One for All, and All for Themselves

"A comparison of force structures in 2001 and 2005 showed countries such as Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Poland, Spain and Germany cut their active-duty forces, according to statistics compiled by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. At the same time, the United States increased its ranks from 1.37 million to 1.42 million.
    More telling is the share of each countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) that is devoted to defense expenditures. The U.S. share has gone from 3 percent to 3.7 percent since September 11, 2001, while other NATO nations collectively have dipped from 2.02 percent to 1.8 percent, according to the Pentagon. Twelve years ago, NATO, excluding the United States, devoted 2.5 percent of GDP to defense. "  Washtimes


Whoa!  This is unacceptable.  Either we are all in this effort against Islamic extremism or we are not.  For the UK to profess a commitment to our joint plans while decreasing both the number of people in its armed forces AND the percentage of GDP devoted to this cause is a travesty.

Pat Lang

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13 Responses to One for All, and All for Themselves

  1. ckrantz says:

    Maybe they have different priorities. We seem to spend most of our money on expensive weapons programs such as the Navy’s $7-billion DD(X) destroyer or F/A-22 stealth aircraft.
    Only the active Army is reduced by 20,000 which is a pre-9/11 force level I think.

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    We should take their “differing priorities” into consideration when considering what we are going to do. pl

  3. CJ says:

    How take their priorities into account? By doing what we are going to do anyway? Submitting a bill after the fact? Being a “hyper-power” ain’t all it’s cracked up to be…

  4. ali says:

    The British Government’s attitude to the Army is a national disgrace. They ask them to perform miracles with poor equipment, fewer soldiers and then to prosecute them with the greatest vigor when they occasionally behave like belligerents instead of heavily armed social workers. This isn’t new, the British elite have always regarded their soldiery with some disdain, “scum of the earth but fine fellows”, but they are currently cutting budgets to the bone and are bent on dismantling proud old regiments like the Black Watch.
    At bottom though there’s not much political support for British defense spending and the expensive, unpopular and apparently counter productive adventures in Iraq has certainly made that worse. Ironically reducing defense costs by increasing their dependence on Uncle Sam is a British policy and the skinflint Brits probably wouldn’t be in Iraq in the first place without that motivation.

  5. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Hard to disagree with. I had an uncle in the Black Watch in WW1, first the Canadian and then 1/42 Foot. See John H. Lang. in Wiki. pl

  6. John Howley says:

    Most of that increased defense spending was paid for with federal debt which we sell to Europe and Asia. I guess the Chinese don’t mind if we drown ourselves in debt and useless hardware while they modernize their economy.

  7. wcw says:

    When I look around the world at defense spending with the word “travesty” in my head, I can’t get away from this one country. It spends a half-trillion a year on its military. It recently invaded a much smaller country. The smaller country spent less than 1% what the larger one did on defense. Yet somehow, the larger country appears to have failed at substantially all its post-invasion goals besides the immediate, narrow military victory.
    When in doubt, follow the money. The UK’s $60 billion are not the issue in the same room with the US’s $470 billion.

  8. Dave says:

    Two comments:
    In the specific case of Canada, though I’ve been unable to verify the statistics, I have a very pronounced feeling that any contraction in manpower didn’t occur in the Regular Force Army portion of the Canadian Forces, not over this specific timeline. The last few years have marked a re-tooling, with some significant (good) changes in where the CF is going. Near as I can tell, Canada now has a CDS with an actual viable vision and is aggressively implementing it.
    It’s worth thinking about whether GDP is an entirely neutral benchmark here. At least some of this may be due more to disproportionate growth in the non-military segments of the economies of other NATO members over the period than to any reduction in programmed spending. Yes, now they can afford more, but that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily getting (or spending) less than they did, particularly if they’re skipping some of the more expensive intermediate transformation-related line items.

  9. bob randolph says:

    It may be a bit “over the top” to contend that “either we are all in this effort against Islamic extremism or we are not.”
    A country’s defence against so-called “Islamic Extremism” will depend on its foreign policies. Countries with an extremely pro-Israel foreign policy and policies that engage in military action and occupation of Islamic countries, along with an activist approach towards remaking and reshaping the middle east will, by necessity, need to spend more money on their militaries and more money on defence against Islamic extremists.
    That said defending against Islamic extremists is not exactly the same, or as expensive as defending against the Soviet Red Army or the Chinese People’s liberation Army. It’s probably not more expensive systems that we need, as Mr. krantz points out, but such decidely low-tech items as more Arabic language training for more military and intelligence progessionals and more military historians along the lines of Cols. McMasters and Lang.

  10. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I have questioned the continuing utility of NATO since the disappearance of the threat for which it was created.
    These reductions make me question it even more. Are we still maintaining this alliance in order to contain Russia? Pat

  11. Bob Randolph says:

    Good point, Pat, and one I hadn’t considered. It seems to make little sense for Nato to continue its eastward expansion, absorbing former east bloc entities in a way that must be seen by Russia as provocative–without providing an adequate defensive capability in the event that Putin turns beligerent.

  12. Glen says:

    It would be interesting to see how much the EU (each of the member countries) is spending on police budgets, and if these budgets show a significant increase. I don’t know how much the EU (or much of the rest of the industrialized world) has seriously bought into the war on terror in Iraq. To them this remains a crime and a police issue rather than a war. If we were dealing with riots similar to Europe right now, we would also be questioning the bang for the buck in Iraq. If Condi is making the rounds soon to let our allies know our Iran war plans, I’m sure we’re going to see most of those countries batten down the hatches and get ready for the mess at home that will result.
    Plus it’s also obvious that if we were serious about the war on terror, we would be making a real effort to address the DOD’s real lack of boots on the ground. The only way to win is Iraq is stay for a long, long time with more people than we have over there right now. Thats not going to happen – instead the WH will declare victory sometime this summer and start pulling people home to win the 2006 midterms.

  13. Ian Welsh says:

    We’re not in it together. Except in Afghanistan. Attacking the wrong country was a deal breaker.
    I say that as someone who believes in increasing military spending in my country.
    NATO no longer has a purpose, as far as I can determine, I agree. Well it does, but it’s not a military purpose.
    As for the US budget, you can’t afford the current effort. You could shut down the entire government except for the military and the redistribution parts, and you’d still have a deficit.
    Something is going to have to give, and it will. The great question in the US is what it will be – and who will pay.
    Someone always pays.

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