UK defense chief plans cuts, major changes

Aug 13th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Featured

Britain’s defense secretary said Friday that senior military posts could be axed as he prepares major spending cuts and a sweeping overhaul of the country’s armed forces.

Liam Fox, who visited Afghanistan this week to talk with troops, must decide within weeks how to slash his department’s budget, as the country’s coalition government seeks to quickly reduce record national debts.

“The prime purpose of what we are doing is to make sure that our armed forces on the front line have everything they need, and all the support they require, to carry out their mission successfully and safely,” Fox said, making a speech in London. “That means that the back room sometimes has to do without to make sure that the front line gets what it wants.”

Fox indicated there are likely to be job losses among both military and civilian staff as the defense ministry undergoes a “cultural shift which will see a leaner and less centralized organization.”

Analysts predict about 30,000 of Britain’s 175,000 armed forces personnel are likely to be cut — probably 20,000 from the army, and about 5,000 each from the air force and navy.

Attending a parade at the Royal Military Academy, Prime Minister David Cameron told troops and dignitaries the pending cuts would be challenging.

“There will be difficult decisions ahead, but I will never forget that defense of the realm is the first duty of any government,” Cameron said at the academy, in Sandhurst, western England. Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister Munir Mangal also watched the ceremony.

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