Terror threat sparks military build up
One consequence of the rise of ISIS-inspired terrorism culminating in the Paris attacks has been a ramping up of military spending and procurement in among western nations.
Europe’s defence industry is set to reap a $US50 billion windfall as heightened terror alerts prompt governments to enhance capabilities – from cyber security to fighter jets, armoured vehicles and drones.
Meanwhile, France has halted plans to cut almost 10,000 military personnel, while Germany will spend an extra $US11.7 billion on defence.
Britain has earmarked a further $US24.9 billion while Germany will spend an extra $11.7 billion on defence.
Italy has said it would devote $US1 billion more to security after the draft budget called for $US2 billion in cuts.
Across Europe, governments are rethinking their defence policies after years of cuts tied to the draw down in Afghanistan and Iraq and austerity programs imposed after the global slump.
The spending commitments will swell budgets that had already begun to revive amid heightened tensions with Russia following last year’s annexation of Crimea, with Britain committing in August to spending two per cent of GDP on defence.
“Over the 2015-2019 period, an extra $US50 billion will be added to Western European defence spending as a result of changes implemented this year,” said Fenella McGerty, senior analyst for defence budgets at Jane’s.
There will be an $US11 billion increase this year, driven by adjustments in France, Germany and the UK that began with the January 7 assault on the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The most immediate response to last month’s attacks saw France join air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria, with bombing sorties. Britain voted to follow suit, extending its anti-IS campaign from Iraq to Syria.
Britain has also committed to taking all 138 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighters initially ordered and has tripled the pace of deliveries to 2023, allowing deployment of two new giant aircraft carriers with a full roster of planes.
Britain also reiterated a commitment to an Anglo-French venture for the development of military drones. Under an agreement signed last year, BAE and Rolls-Royce are working with France’s Dassault, Selex ES, Thales and Safran on a model along the lines of General Dynamics Aeronautical Systems’ Predator.
Cyber security is another focus of spending announcements; with Britain saying Tuesday it would spend $US3 billion over five years countering Islamic State’s use of the internet for planning, propaganda and online attacks, creating a specialist task force to seek out its communications.
Closer to home, the continuing terror threat level in Victoria has stretched the state’s police, Victoria’s Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton has revealed.
Mr Ashton recently welcomed a $A49.4 million boost to police counter-terrorism from the state government saying it came at a very important time.
“This is an area that has been stretching us now for a while. There have been more and more people in the area of counter-terrorism that we have had to have concerns about,” Mr Ashton said.
“It continues to grow at an increasing rate.”
In announcing the extra $49 million Premier Daniel Andrews said that Victoria Police would hire 88 counter-terrorism experts, including 40 dedicated sworn officers.
Civilian staff will be part of the counter-terrorism team, including interpreters and data analysts.
“This is exactly the resource boost that Victoria Police sought; we’ve given it to them. This is not a cost, this is an investment in a safer Victoria and I’m very, very confident that this means our counter-terrorism capability will be second to none,” Mr Andrews said.
AMES Australia Senior Journalist