This will be Britain’s 8th C-17 and Cameron said that it is an important investment for the country. The mission in Libya highlighted the importance of transport aircraft, especially in evacuating civilians.
This announcement by Cameron came at the heels of criticisms that military is weakening caused by wide-range budget cuts.
A Defence Committee report suggested that the UK would have a hard time in staging an operation similar to its Libya mission. Massive defense cuts can severely affect the military’s capabilities.
“The real test is whether the success of this mission was a one-off or whether the lessons it has highlighted mean that future such missions can be successfully undertaken, whilst maintaining the U.K.’s capability to protect its interests elsewhere,” said committee Chairman James Arbuthnot.
Britain participated in the NATO-led operation on Libya before the 8% budget cut on the military was implemented. The committee questions how can the military perform a similar operation in the future should the need arises. A limited budget would bring out great challenges to stage such mission.
The Defense Committee is also distressed future NATO Operation will rely heavily on the US Military to provide unmanned aerial vehicles, intelligence, and fueling aircraft.
“For the time being, there will continue to be a heavy reliance on U.S. command and control functions for future NATO operations,” the committee said. “It should be a priority for NATO to examine this over-reliance on U.S. capabilities and assets.”
The committee also observed that with the budget cuts, participating in NATO operations would cause the military to neglect other commitments. While it commends the Royal Navy for evacuating the civilians from Libya, it noted that this action hindered the navy to be able to provide escort and carry out counter-drug operations.
But Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond disagreed with the report. He said that the participation of the military in Libya highlighted the UK’s military power around the world. It is capable to performing its missions while keeping its commitments to other area of interest like in Afghanistan and the Gulf.
“We retain the capability to project power abroad and meet our NATO obligations, supported by what is the world’s fourth largest defense budget,” Hammond said.
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