Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Opting for lean and mean armies

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The British army is being cut to size, or perhaps, being stripped to its bones. The British defence secretary has announced a 20 percent cut, reducing its strength to 82,000 combatants by the end of the decade.

The British expect to retain the ability to field only one expeditionary force of a brigade group for protracted periods, and given support by allies, up to a division for non-enduring exigencies. Even if all their wishes were to come true, the British army will more than reflect the shrinking of the British Empire. Contrast the British story to the goings-on in Asia. The Chinese army boasts a strength of 2.3 million. In India, the armed forces are over 1.3 million.

A few years ago, Indians announced the raising of two new divisions for the eastern theatre. Apparently, the way the concept of lean and mean forces is being addressed in continents oceans apart couldn’t be more different.

China defence spending rises as U.S. budget declines

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

As China prepares for the final plenum of the 17th Party Congress, it has announced that the new defence budget would amount to 670 billion RMB (approximately $106 billion), which equates to a 11.2 percent increase. This is in sharp contrast to the United States, which, despite a so-called “pivot to Asia,” is busily reducing its defence budget.

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