Fallon Calls for More than NATO's 2% Target to be Spent on Defence
(Source: British Forces News; issued Oct 03, 2017)
Sir Michael Fallon has called for an increase in defence funding ahead of next month's Budget. The move will put pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of his final budget statement on November 22nd. Sir Michael told the Press Association: "We are going to grow the defence budget".

The Defence Secretary made his announcement at the Tory Party Conference. He stated that funding should increase beyond the 2% of GDP NATO target because "the threats to our country are intensifying"; he told Sky News:

"The 2% is a minimum commitment by NATO members. We meet it at the moment. We have also committed to increasing the budget ahead of inflation each year.

"But we are reviewing now the threats to our country, which have intensified in the last couple of years. So, we do need to be sure that we have the resources that we need and we should aim to do better."

He added: "The Prime Minister is 100% on my page, she understands very well the threats to our country."

The news comes after former first sea lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas said UK would have the capabilities of a "third world nation" unless funding was increased.

But Sir Michael hit back, saying the Admiral had welcomed the measures contained in the 2015 defence review.

He told the Press Association: "We have got the fifth biggest defence budget in the world, the biggest navy in Europe, two enormous flagships - the Queen Elizabeth and the Prince of Wales.

"There's nothing hollowed out about the Queen Elizabeth. As first sea lord, he welcomed this new investment."

"We are going to grow the navy and we are going to grow the defence budget.”

The Defence Secretary is also set to announce that a £1 billion package for the Royal Navy will allow warships to spend more time at sea defending Britain's interests in the face of increasing threats.

Sir Michael Fallon will tell the Conservative party conference that support for different types of ships will be brought together to improve efficiency.

The move will bring together £1billion worth of contracts from within the existing defence budget, including deals to maintain the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers.

Sir Michael will say: "This new deal will support the Royal Navy as we prepare to welcome two huge new aircraft carriers, two new classes of frigates and new support ships.

"We are growing the Royal Navy and ensuring that our warships will spend more time out at sea defending Britain's interests.

"As threats intensify, only under the Conservatives will Britain be a global leader in defence and by investing in our armed forces - through our rising defence budget - we are helping to keep people safe at home while working with allies abroad."

In April, it was announced that the Royal Marines would lose 200 posts as the Royal Navy "repurposed" its staff.

However, The Times recently reported military chiefs considering reducing the size of the Marines by 1,000 as part of a cost-cutting defence review.

The Defence Secretary has also announced that 31 UK state schools will have cadet units in a bid to instil values of “discipline and loyalty” in pupils.

The new units are part of the Conservative’s drive to increase the number of school cadet units to 500 by 2020.

The 31 new units will be focused on schools in deprived areas, or with high ethnic minority populations.

Speaking at the Albion Academy in Salford, Greater Manchester, which already has a cadet unit, Sir Michael said:

"Cadets help instil values of discipline and loyalty. They develop leadership skills and confidence.

"For too long cadet units have been the preserve of independent schools but, thanks to this Conservative Government, more children in state schools will reap the benefits."

The Tories have said that research from the University of Northampton demonstrates that cadet forces increase social mobility, as well as improving attendance and behaviour among pupils who have been previously excluded.

The new programme will be funded by Libor fines levied on the banks.

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