UK Ministers Trying to Inflate Defense Budget to Meet NATO Pledge

UK Ministry of Defense Main Building, Jan. 24, 2013Ministers are stretching to the limit what can be counted as defence spending to shoehorn elements of intelligence and overseas aid into the military budget ahead of a Nato report.

Government figures have been talking to Nato and the OECD to see what can be re-categorised as defence as Downing Street tries to come as close as it can to the defence alliance’s defence spending target.

The talks come ahead of a league table of Nato members’ military spending, which UK officials say will be published on a “comparable basis”. This will be vital for the UK, which has had a narrower definition of the defence budget than other alliance members.

Officials said it was “perfectly legitimate” to look at ways of reallocating the overseas aid budget and parts of intelligence and cyber security to the Ministry of Defence.

“The French count the gendarmerie [the military wing of the police] towards their spending target, so we should look at every item of ours to make sure we maximise our submission to Nato,” one said.

The creative accountancy comes as David Cameron looks to head off both domestic and international criticism of military spending….

US president Barack Obama used a meeting with Mr Cameron at the Group of Seven summit in Germany this month to urge that the target be met.

Image: UK Ministry of Defense Main Building, Jan. 24, 2013 (photo: Harland Quarrington/UK Ministry of Defense)