Defence budget soars as military reaches breaking point

The government today announced a massive increase in defence spending, with an additional £7.7 billion being channeled into the Ministry of Defence (MoD) by 2011.

The increase in funds comes as MPs and military strategists warn Britain’s military capacity is reaching breaking point under the burden of military engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Earlier this month the commons public accounts committee warned staffing levels across the three services had become perilously low.

Its report said: “The impact of continuous downsizing, pressures and overstretch is affecting the department’s ability to retain and provide a satisfactory life for armed forces personnel.”

But today’s announcement is set to give the MoD a £36.9 billion budget by 2011.

First on the ministry’s shopping list are two new aircraft carriers, said by defence secretary Des Browne to be the largest vessels ever sailed by the Royal Navy.

Mr Browne said the increased funding is “evidence of the government’s commitment to defence and to the men and women who serve with the utmost bravery in our armed forces”.

He added: “The carriers represent a step change in our capability, enabling us to deliver increased strategic effect and influence around the world at a time and place of our choosing.”

The funding increase comes as the Treasury continues to support additional costs of military operations over and above the defence budget.

It has been forced to invest £6.6 billion in supporting the frontline since the start of the so-called ‘war on terror’ six years ago.