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Cameron to pledge extra funds to British armed forces

LONDON (AVRUPA TIMES) Britain is to add 12 billion pounds ($18.2 billion) to its defense spending this year, an amount that will rise over the next five years, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Monday.


Fallon, speaking ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on the U.K.’s Strategic Defense and Security Review, said the extra money came in the face of threats from Russia and terrorism.


The money is on top of Britain’s 178 billion pound ($270 billion) annual defense budget.


“That means more ships, more planes, more equipment for the special forces and the defense budget as a whole for the first time in seven years is going to start increasing now,” Fallon told BBC radio.


“From April and every year of this parliament we'll be spending more money on keeping our country safe.”


He added: “This is, sadly, a more dangerous world. We didn’t five years ago predict the resurgence of Russia and what it did in Crimea and Ukraine. We certainly didn’t predict the rise of ISIL [Daesh] or the extent to which government can be attacked by cyber.”


Cameron is expected to commit his country to a new fleet of maritime patrol aircraft and a rapid-reaction strike force when he announces the defense review later in parliament.


In the summer budget, Chancellor George Osborne promised to meet a NATO target of spending 2 percent of national income on defense to 2020.


The prime minister spent Monday morning in Paris, where he met President Francois Hollande to discuss action against Daesh following the Paris suicide attacks that killed 130.


Turning to military action in Syria, where the U.K. remains outside the coalition bombing Daesh targets, Fallon did not say when parliament would be asked to vote again on authorizing British airstrikes.


Lawmakers voted against attacks in Syria in 2013, when the issue was focused on attacking President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Now the focus is on Daesh.


“We have a highly skilled air force,” Fallon said. “The Tornados that we’ve been deploying in Iraq have a high precision missile, the Brimstone missile, [which] nobody else has that reduces and eliminates civilian causalities because it’s so precise.”


He said the government had to persuade lawmakers that plans were in place for a political solution in Syria to complement military action.


“We’ll also be setting out the moral case that we have now French aircraft, American aircraft, Australian aircraft coming halfway around the globe and we can’t let them take all the burden and indeed all the risk of fighting ISIL on our behalf.”

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