Hammond: Europe must stop relying on America
European nations must stop relying so heavily on the United States for global security and must take on more responsibility in their “own back yard”, the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said today.
European countries must also be "prepared, if necessary, to take a bigger role in relation to North Africa and the Middle East", Mr Hammond said, in comments likely to be picked up with interest abroad.
"With the United States reflecting, in its strategic posture, the growing importance of the developing strategic challenge in the Pacific, the nations of Europe must find the political will to take on more responsibility for our own back yard, and fund the capabilities that allow us to do that," Mr Hammond told defence chiefs and military contractors at the Chief of the Air Staff's Air Power Conference 2012, organised by the Royal United Services Institute.
"Certainly that means shouldering the major burden in the Balkans and the Mediterranean but also being prepared, if necessary, to take a bigger role in relation to North Africa and the Middle East.
"The bottom line is that Europe, as a whole, needs to do more, at a time when the reality is that, across the continent, aggregate defence expenditure is certain to fall in the short term and, at best, recover slowly in the medium term.
"So the challenge is stark: if we can't spend more, we must do things differently - maximising the capability we can collectively squeeze out of the resources we have, increasing inter-operability, closing capability gaps through joint working and greater specialisation."
Mr Hammond also said that upgrading Britain's current Trident nuclear deterrent would probably be cheaper than any alternative proposed by the Liberal Democrats. He said that the Trident missiles and warheads have "many, many years of life in them" and only require new submarines to carry them by 2028. Any alternative attempt to create a nuclear deterrent in its entirety would be prohibitively expensive, he said.
His comments deepen the Coalition's rift over Trident, after Mr Hammond earlier this week ordered £350m of work on new submarines.
The Lib Dems accused him of "jumping the gun because no decision is due on replacing the system until after the next general election, in 2016.
The deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg dismissed Mr Hammond's plans, saying: "A like-for-like entirely unchanged replacement of Trident is basically saying we will spend billions and billions and billions of pounds on a nuclear missile system designed with the sole strategic purpose of flattening Moscow at the press of a button."
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
Bali Nine executions in Indonesia: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford says she 'just wants to get it over with'
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...
£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...