A new policy paper finds that in order for Britain to maintain a position as a global power; it must invest more in the tools that ensure it can ‘protect itself and prevent conflict’.

The report by the Henry Jackson Society – ‘Global Britain and the Future of the British Armed Forces’ – discusses the following findings:

  • As the geopolitical situation in Europe and Globally becomes more unreliable, the paper recommends the Government increase military budget equivalent to 3% of UK GDP over the next five years.
  • By using its land and air forces more actively, the UK could continue to deter threats to the security of its European allies or prevent them from coming together in inappropriate ways.
  • The paper recommends that 3% defence spending commitment should be mandated through an Act of Parliament, providing the MoD and the armed forces with greater continuity when undertaking defence planning.

James Rogers, Director of the Global Britain Programme at The Henry Jackson Society and author of the report summarised the conclusions:

“I believe this report outlines – using geopolitical analysis – why the United Kingdom, as it leaves the European Union, must take military power more seriously. It shows why Britain, with a deepening commitment to its European partners, the emergence of a revisionist Russia, and growing interests in the Indo-Pacific zone, needs to spend more on its armed forces.”

Commenting on the report, Mark Francois MP, Member of the Defence Select Committee and a former Minister for the Armed Forces said:

“With the decision to leave the European Union and the emergence of an American president who wants his allies to pull their weight, this report outlines clearly why the time is hardly right for the government to consider further cuts to our armed forces. Britain needs to engage more in Europe and more in the booming Indo-Pacific region. This requires a strong army, a capable air force and a go-anywhere navy.”

Lord West of Spithead, former First Sea Lord, Chief of the Naval Staff and Minister for Security and Counter-Terrorism said:

“Britain’s amphibious capability, a crucial part of which are the assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, is critical to the nation’s ability to deter challenges in the European littorals of the Wider North and the Mediterranean, as well as theatre entry worldwide. This report shows why the time has come to increase the resources allocated to defence to maintain them.”

Read the full report here.


  1. I think this report hits the nail on the head – if we can legislate for foreign aid, then we should legislate for defence.

    3% is where we need to be at if we are looking to kick start the industrial base, make good on promises made to the country about giving our people the best kit in appropriate volume and matching the political aspirations of our governments with some hard cash and commitment.

    I would however state that this needs to be predicated on a single force structure and fully audited accounts that are signed off by the relevant parliamentary committee. Its important that this becomes cross party and sustainable and not a 5 year fix.

    • “Well, two bloody huge carriers is a start.

      I do feel the RN (Which has been so innovative) missed a trick with the two new carriers. I feel the US have got it right with USS Bougainville the latest iteration of the America class.

  2. Personally i feel the biggest problem the Military has is the numerous so called defence reviews which are simply a smokescreen in which to shave off yet more money. Add a very disjointed procurement policy which chops and changes on a yearly basis and we arrive at a military which isn’t fit for purpose.

    • Yes. Look at how much the slowing down of the build during the Gordon Brown era plus the cat flip-flop added to the total carrier costs. That extra money could have brought us one or maybe even 2 more T26 (granted, not that we would currently have the personnel to crew or maintain them).

      Pacman27 mentioned earlier that if we can legislate for foreign aid then we should for defence. We should certainly be trying to lock in any build plans more tightly to stop them being meddled with by future governments purely to save costs and/or because they are considered a legacy of a previous government and hence must be bad or sub-optimal so a new government feels the need to tinker. Not everything about democracy is good.

    • It’s also carried out by commercial bean counters and with barely a nod to the service they expect to take the hatchet to

  3. Good article stating what everyone including HMG know full well.

    Such is the opposite reality though with regards HMG attitude to defence it makes you wonder if it’s all part of some grand plan.

  4. Whilst wholly sympathetic to concern about yet further cuts to military capability, I do not think this report makes its case well. Increasing spend from 2+% to 3% of GDP on wholly unreformed force structures kitted out with equipment already overpriced and escalating faster than general inflation is not likely to achieve much, apart from further enriching BAE and LM.
    UK defence posture throughout the Cold War was logical and appropriate: nuclear deterrence, major field force on the north German plain and an anti submarine navy.
    Since 1991, we have engaged in wars of choice not necessity and most have achieved nothing or made situations worse. The far larger efforts by USA have been similarly largely fruitless.
    It is clear that UK, with< 1% of world's population and @ 2% of world GDP, cannot rationally expect to be a major global force- does South Korea or Brazil?
    But we can afford a powerful self defence capability within current budget levels, if we stop pandering to nostalgia for Victorian imperial dominance. Spending £6.5b on 2 unnecessary aircraft carriers and £15b+ on F35 aircraft to fly off them is utter folly. The effect on the wider armed force equipment and personnel budgets is and will remain crippling.

    • I completely concur. Very well said. We need vessels and indeed armed defence forces better suited to coastal defence. The carriers are white elephants which have drained the defence budget rather as Trident is. We could have a powerful well equipped military better suited to a medium sized European island nation. We have over priced armed forces and money is being squandered in a vain attempt to project power when the real threat is far closer to home.

      (Disclaimer: in response to other posters’ accusations actually levelled at me, I am not employed by Russia or North Korea, I have never voted for a left leaning political party, I am not a communist, I am not a traitor or a ‘peacenik’, I have not has the security services banging on my door)

      • TH

        I do not generally have a problem with your position which is consistent if not exactly to my taste.

        The problem I have is the Govt’s eyes are bigger than its belly, and it wants to strut our military on the world stage based upon what is a startling track record of achievement in fairness, but does not want to fund it properly.

        The points made by P. Sparrow get to the rub of the problem – what exactly do we need to achieve our political goals and can we afford it.

        I do support the 3% as I believe the industrial base can be energised by military equipment spending but as I state – this cannot be against the old world order and needs a paradigm shift into a single force that seeks to defend the UK and its key import routes. As an island nation I think the RN are critical in this and actual coastal defence is useless as we would be starved by any nation who can out muscle us at sea.

        What you buy I will leave to the pro’s (on this occasion) but we do need a strategy and proper funding, something that has been lacking for 30 years+

      • If Britain was self sufficient in everything it required to function as a nation then your theory would plausible. Because Britain has to import most of what it requires then it is forced into venturing further than its coastal waters, therefore it requires a larger Navy that can have a global reach. This costs a lot of money to maintain and political will to achieve.

      • I always have a laugh at your disclaimers TH. It’s basically ‘Hey, I’m just going to lie and say I’ve been ‘harrrased’ on this site so if anyone disagrees with me and calls me out on my BS then I can play the persecuted underdog card’.

        The two of yours argument can basically be summed as ‘muh Imperialsm’ with a touch of little Englander, small Island mentality sprinkled in that purges from your brain the facts that were ranked #1 in soft power and have one of the biggest economies in the world. If you had your way we would be reduced to nothing but a few patrol boats off the coast because going out nd engaging with the world and ensuring our security to emerging threats apparently isn’t achievable. The size of the country and its population doesn’t matter.

        • Spot on Lewis. Told him that many a time and it’s ignored while he has his head in the clouds dreaming of the UK being nobody.

    • Foreign aid, why do we give 180 million” to India? A nation with an energetic booming economy, and a bold approach to the expansion of its armed forces

  5. if they took trident away from the defence budget along with war pensions and compensation claims then 2% would be ok,but we all know 3% is never going to happen when the government are hell bent on paying an EU divorce bill billions which will take years to pay,along with the fact they increase foreign aid every year,which is the one thing i hate as the foreign aid budget is wasted on countries who already have a good economy,instead of what it was intended for which was to help 3rd world countries,but even then corruption has ruined it,defence always takes a back seat and is always the first along with the really sick claiming benefit and motorists to be hit with cuts or price hikes

  6. Had a quick read of the report. In summary this is typical old school hunter disguised as academic research. First of all analysis involves analysis! Analysis is not wish fulfilment. In order to be taken seriously, there are a number of questions that a report should address. These include; peer comparisons, best practice, steady state. Lets look at these in the order mentioned.

    Why peer comparisons, well if all our peers are facing the same difficulties and having the same issues, it is suggestive that these issues are not solvable as a singularity.

    Best practice, this should be obvious. If a standard has been set for a well devised, effectively managed and successfully delivered defence strategy/policy, then lessons should be incorporated. Only an idiot keeps re-inventing the wheel.

    Steady state? What should a modern day defence planning/delivery process look like and what would it deliver. Before this is addressed, the rest really does not get you anywhere.

    One of the sad things about the modern day defence debate is the lack of modern day data analytics (quantitative and qualitative), which would be the recruitment of any freshly graduated novice. We are stuck in this noddyland of counter counter counter, we should be bigger, we should spend more. But maybe we should spend less, but more wisely??

    • ever heard of paralysis through analysis? Too much time looking in one place, and missing the obvious. The assets we have are generally badly used we’ve a shield of archers, but it is they, not front line ships that should form the UK’s contribution to the anti piracy operations, trained to operate in squadrons, they might actually be worth having after all. In fact, with the exception of operating in deep water, there’s not a lot that a river class can do, that the archer can’t.

  7. Someone needs to bring the folly of cutting the defence budget continually into sharp focus with HMG before it’s too late. Sound bite smoke screens may pass today as “good politics”, but they leave us very vulnerable indeed as an Island nation importing 80% of the goods we need. It also emboldens our enemies.

    Our American allies are pulling their hair out at our cuts.

    • These arguments about 2.5% or 3.0% are absolutely futile. Reality check if the politicians had that kind of money availiable they would spend it on the NHS, Education or housing Defence wouldn’t get a look in. Any debate about our future military needs to be largely (but not exclusively) about what we’re spending on now and whether it could be spent differently. Or to greater effect. Unless you accept that your like a dog chasing it’s tail. Futile. Sorry but true.

    • Or just laughing at our mess.plenty of options, remove the upper superstructure of a bay class,fit a full length deck and use it as a h.l.p i see the much lauded sigma corvette which is very similar in size e.tc to a river, it’s 10 meters longer 5 knots faster yet come with twin, triple anti submarine torpedo launchers, a 76mm cannon,4 exocets, two quad anti air launchers, the o.p.v should be adapted in a similar way and designated ‘light frigate’.

  8. Now, if I were campaigning to save the ships Ocean, Albion & Bulwark and a few thousand Royal Marines, I would be letting the House of Commons Defence Committee know my views direct rather than being an armchair admiral writing essays on here. 😉

    House of Commons Select Committee on Defence – The Royal Marines and UK amphibious capability web forum


    • I complain to my MP so often he calls me admiral! I send regular emails asking him to pass to the m.o.d which, in fairness, they do and reply (eventually).i’d everyone to do the same, it doesn’t even cost postage.

  9. 3% defence to gdp ratio
    remove the cost of strategic nuclear deterrent from the defence budget. George Osbourne the Eaton educated buffoon should never have been allowed to let the treasury move the cost of trident onto the defence budget.
    Pay armed forces pensions from a separate source.
    stop spending £13 billion on foreign aid every year.
    TH you are Russian we know it and you know it.

  10. The paradox is that Cameron mandated that Foreign aid was set in stone ,i think .7per cent of gdp of which he is “particularly proud “he says and yet we forsake the same arrangement for Defence , Indeed what is galling is that the Foreign Aid minister has a job in finding how to spend this amount leading to what is known in Government circles as the Blank Cheque dept. The stupidity of Politicians leads one to wonder if they populate lah lah land

    • Even after the loss of 2 destroyers, and frigates in the Falklands, the government found enough moolah to lift defense spending to 5%, thereby funding the type 22 frigate order. Does it really take a war to bring people to their senses?

    • They DO inhabit the La la land and always have done, I say bring back the 1889 naval defense, a twin powers act which is still on the statute! Have a look at it.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here