Defence Spending in NATO, How we Compare

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by meridian, Feb 18, 2008.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Some interesting figures from NATO on defence spending

    The graphs are from data presented in a NATO report on defence spending and other data. I have taken out the USA because they distort the graphs. The report states that they are based on a NATO standard method rather than taking figures directly from the country so might be different from what is published by the various governments. The report has actuals going back years and makes an estimate for 2007, those figures are the ones in graph

    Interesting to note that we come top of the shop for actual amount spent, but joint fourth (with Bulgaria) on percent of GDP. It also shows we are fifth in terms of service personnel numbers.

    Probably the most interesting comparison is with France as we are both similar in GDP, strategic stance, UN Security Council etc. They spend similar in money and % GDP but can maintain a mucher larger force for that and it could be argued that they have similar quality weapons etc.

    Percent of GDP is often used as a benchmark with which to base arguments for more spending but is this a flawed metric?



  2. So what you're saying is that 'euro for euro' the UK defence budget spends more per soldier than anyone else in Europe.
  3. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    I am not really saying anything its just interesting to see how we stack up against France in particular who are very similar but can maintain a much larger force on pretty much the same money. They also support their own defence industry as we do.

    Also interesting to look at % of GDP as a metric on which to base spending
  4. The Gendarmerie are part of the French military, so skew things somewhat.
    The UK is one of few nations whose defence statistics are limited to three expeditionary warfare services.
  5. To get a complete picture one needs to look at commitments as well.

    War costs money and skews the picture.
  6. I do wonder how these things work: France has a completely independent nuclear deterrent - the missiles are 100% French AFAIK and all their aircraft are too, but we have to collaberate with others for the same thing.
  7. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    I agree, there is always a danger of not looking behind the figures and taking it too literally

  8. Yep, we're about to pay the US a fair few billion to get the Trident replacement, and of course we also give the US what they want as well, a European nuclear outpost between them and Russia!
  9. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    If you take out the 100,000 Gendarmerie (which also provides military police functions for the French military) they still maintain a serious numerical advantage though
  10. IIRC French figures do not include Pension payments, Government pensions are collected and distributed centrally. Our defence budget includes pensions. So it could be argued the French spend more, as their figure is wages, hardware (incl R&D) and infrastructure only.
  11. The only part of our nuclear deterrent we collaborate with others for is the missile body. All the other important parts, including the instant sunshine, are British.
    In the quantities we have it would cost squillions to develop something with the capability of the D5. Developing a system with the US was the only sensible choice.
    Our missiles have a range of around 12,000km, the French have a range of around 6,000km. I'd rather have our superior collaboration than the French second division effort.
  12. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

    Just re read the foreward of the report in which it states that pensions are included in the figures. It uses a NATO standard defnition which I think is meant to even out those kinds of variance although it states that France, Italy and Luxembourg are not quite fully compliant with this standardised definition.

    To quote

    "Expenditures for research and development are included in equipment expenditures and pensions paid to retirees in personnel expenditures"
  13. Sounds right, it makes the defence budget look smaller than it is, problem is the French a very good at finding Govt jobs for ex-forces, making it hard to work out which proportion of pension payments are for what.
  14. meridian

    meridian LE Good Egg (charities)

    One of the questions raised is

    Is Percent of GDP a meaningful way to gauge required spending. Everyone always bangs on about this, the Tories, UKNDA, the media etc but when we spend the same as a percentage of our GDP as Bulgaria, not much more than Poland but much less than Greece surely we should be looking at real pound notes.

    Work out what we want to do with the services and fund to the appropriate cash amount.

    Percent of GDP is complete nonsense I think
  15. Not so. The UK's warheads are almost an exact copy of the US w76 design and rely on the US for certain key components/ We're also utterly dependent on the US for many other aspects of our so-called 'independent' deterrant. The French effort may be 'second division', but at least no other country can arbitarily decide to take their ball away!