In 2023, a U.S. general noted that decades of military spending cuts in the United Kingdom had affected its war-fighting capabilities. Are there lessons other countries can learn from the UK when it comes to budgeting for defense?
In 2023, a U.S. general noted that decades of military spending cuts in the United Kingdom had affected its war-fighting capabilities. The same concerns about the state of the British forces were also flagged by the then-head of the U.S. army in 2015.
Cuts in military spending aren’t unique to the U.K. For decades, military spending worldwide has decreased due to decades of “peace dividends” after the end of World War II.
Even defense spending in the U.S., as a percentage of its economic output, is at historic lows, from around 9% of its GDP in 1960 to 3.5% in 2021.
In between recessions and rising cost pressures to fund social spending, military budgets were easy targets for cuts. But when economies recovered, military budgets did not increase in tandem.
An analysis of military spending since World War II noted that “military budgets require more time to recover from an economic downturn than to benefit from economic growth.”
Since Russian troops poured into Ukraine, and China has asserted itself more forcefully in Asia, European countries have announced a ramp up of their military spending.
Are there lessons other countries can learn from the United Kingdom when it comes to budgeting for defense?
Watch the video above to learn about the factors affecting defense budgets and why military spending is rising so slowly.