By Sergei Sayenko
The British government will face huge financial problems if the military resolve to launch a military campaign on the same scale as the operation in Libya, the House of Commons’ defense committee says.
In 2011 Britain and France became part of NATO-led operations targeting Gaddafi regime in Libya. According to official reports, Britain spent about €254mln on the military campaign in Libya. However, a publication in The Guardian at the end of last year contends that the Libyan campaign cost British taxpayers 1.75 billion pounds. This exceeds the originally planned sum by nearly sevenfold.
Given the situation, the British MPs have warned the government of David Cameron that it will face “difficult decisions” if it chooses to engage in yet another campaign. Nearly two billion pounds spent over the six months of the campaign in Libya could be more than the military can handle.
In October 2010 the incumbent Cabinet resolved to cut defense spending by 8% over four years. These savings program stipulated the scrapping of aircraft, including Harrier jets, the Navy’s flagship HMS Ark Royal, the Nimrod spy planes, and the cutting of 42,000 Ministry of Defense and armed forces jobs. In these conditions, new engagements would be disastrous for Britain.
However, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said: “The Libyan campaign shows that we retain the contingent capability to conduct operations in addition to our commitments in Afghanistan, counter-piracy off the Horn of Africa, Gulf security and standing tasks such as the Falklands and defense of the UK”.
Evidently, Britain will have to pay a pretty penny if it chooses to embark on a mission similar to the Libyan one and maintain participation in such a mission on a proper level. Judging by the recent developments, Britain’s expenses for military campaigns are bound to increase over the next few years. London has resolved to send a Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine and the destroyer HMS Dauntless to the Falklands Islands which have been at the center of dispute between Britain and Argentina.
Britain has always followed the US in both foreign and military policies. Now that the US is shifting its military, geographic and strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region, Britain might well follow suit which will require a substantial regrouping of Britain’s armed forces and hefty financial injections.
As the situation in the Middle East remains tense, Iran has become a region of particular concern. Britain has always regarded Iran as its influence zone and will hardly opt for losing it. Israel and the US have been insisting on a military campaign against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. The start of such a campaign has been set for April or June this year.
Should Tel Aviv and Washington embark on the campaign, London will surely take part as well and will dispatch warplanes and ships. However, a campaign in Iran is not going to be easy. Iran is much stronger than Libya, Iraq or Afghanistan, and Israel, the US and Britain might run into serious trouble in Iran. Tel Aviv, Washington and London should think seriously about the consequences of a military scenario for Iran. Before it’s too late.