LONDON — Britain will spend 2.4 billion pounds ($3.8 billion, 2.9 billion euros) less than planned on its mission in Afghanistan because combat operations will end in 2014, finance minister George Osborne said March 21.
Osborne told lawmakers as he gave his budget for the year ahead that the lower than expected spending on the already 10-year-old mission in Afghanistan would help Britain reduce its deficit.
“As the prime minister made clear with the U.S. president last week, U.K. forces will cease combat operations by the end of 2014,” Osborne said, referring to David Cameron’s meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.
“As a consequence, I can tell the House that the cost of operations — which are funded by the government’s special reserve and entirely separate from the defense budget — are expected to be a total of 2.4 billion pounds lower than planned over the remainder of the parliament.”
The current parliament is set to end in 2015, when elections are due.
Osborne said some of the savings would go towards an extra 100 million pounds of improvements to the accommodation of service members’ families, while a grant paid to families while troops are deployed would be doubled.
Britain has 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second largest contributor of international troops there after the United States.
Along with other NATO countries, it plans to pull out all combat troops by the end of 2014, with further reductions in the number of soldiers there expected in 2012 and 2013.