Britain is urging its NATO allies to earmark a fifth of their national defense budgets for new equipment and research and development, according to UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
NATO’s credibility rests on its member states investing sufficient cash to show that the alliance is serious about countering the growing threats it faces, Fallon told a Royal United Services Institute conference in London on the eve of the NATO summit.
Defense spending — or rather the lack of it where Europe is concerned — is one of the items on the agenda as member states and partners gather at Newport, South Wales, for a two-day summit starting Wednesday, which most people agree is the most important NATO summit since the end of the Cold War.
“When we talk about spending, quality as well as quantity counts. … So we are urging all allies to spend 20 percent of their defense budgets on new equipment, research and development of capabilities,” Fallon said.
To emphasize the point, Fallon announced the British MoD had agreed on a £3.5 billion deal with General Dynamics UK to purchase a new fleet of specialist armored fighting vehicles starting in 2017
Spending by 24 of NATO’s 28 members has been below the alliance’s target rate of 2 percent of gross domestic product for years, a situation made worse by the fact that for many nations personnel and administration costs are too high and investment in capabilities too low.
The summit would provide a “real opportunity to arrest and reverse the decline in defense spending amongst our allies,” Fallon told the audience of military officers, academics and industry executives.