British military still 'first-rate': White House

19th October 2010, Comments 1 comment

The White House on Tuesday backed British Prime Minister David Cameron's contention that his country would still have a "first-rate military" despite slashing cuts in troop numbers and key assets.

"Our view is that certainly the level of help and cooperation that we get and the sacrifice of that country in places like Afghanistan certainly is vital and important to our coalition," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The White House also believed Britain "will indeed continue to have a first-rate military," and that the "readiness and capability of the British armed forces would continue."

US officials said Monday that Cameron told Obama in a telephone call that Britain would continue to be a "first-rate military power" despite the British strategy review and defense cuts, though did not say if the US president agreed.

In a statement on Monday, the White House said that Obama appreciated that Britain would retain the "full spectrum of military capabilities that permits our forces to partner effectively around the world."

Cameron announced on Tuesday that 17,000 armed forces personnel would go and the Royal Navy flagship Ark Royal would be decommissioned as part of a wide range of public spending reductions designed to tackle the bloated deficit.

He vowed however there would be "no cut whatsoever" to the level of support for forces in Afghanistan under the eight percent cuts to the 37 billion pound (42 billion euro, 58 billion dollar) Ministry of Defence (MoD) budget.

The British government has delayed a decision on renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent until 2016, although Cameron stressed that he wanted to "retain and renew" it.

The announcements came ahead of a sweeping program of reductions of up to 25 percent in most government departments which will be unveiled in a comprehensive spending review Wednesday.

© 2010 AFP

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