LONDON — Britain's defense secretary has given the timescale for delivery of a new strategic defense and security review (SDSR) that will dictate the armed forces' capabilities and posture for the next five years.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told Parliament on June 8 that the SDSR will report "towards the end of this year."

Fallon also said that the £500 million (US $763.1 million) in defense cuts announced last week as part of a wider move by the new Conservative government to repair public finances was "way below the original demands of the Treasury."

Media speculation suggested the Treasury was originally looking at a nearly £1 billion reduction in defense spending.

There had been fears that the SDSR could run on into 2016, causing delays to progress on equipment programs,restructuring the military and other issues.

The defense review is being undertaken in parallel with a government spending review for the three years starting 2016-17 that is expected to result in spending cuts for departments other than health, education and overseas aid, which have been ring-fenced.

Fallon rejected suggestions that the SDSR would be dictated by budget considerations, a feature of the the previous review in 2010.

"This is a strategic defencse review, not a Treasury-led review, a review across the whole of government to assess the threats to the country and the future threats that may emerge to our country, the capabilities needed to address those threats and, of course, the resources we need to finance those capabilities," he said.

Fallon warned, though, that the SDSR "will be properly aligned with the spending review because defense, to be deliverable, has to be affordable."

Many of the 2010 review's findings still held good, he said, but new threats like Russian aggression and the Islamic State group would be taken into account in this year's SDSR.

The defense secretary reiterated a manifesto pledge by the new Conservative government that it would not cut regular armed forces numbers, increase the defense equipment budget by 1 percent a year in real terms for five years, build four new Trident nuclear missile boats to replace the existing fleet and not cut regular armed forces numbers.

He again declined to commit defense spending beyond the end of this financial year to the NATO target of 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Fallon's remarks followed a week in which US President Barack Obama and his defense secretary, Ash Carter, both spoke out against Britain allowing defense spending to fall below the 2 percent level.

The UK defense secretary gave additional details of the £500 million cuts to defense spending this year, saying it would involve deferring equipment spending from this year to next year.

The MoD said the previous last week that the use of consultants, travel and civil service overtime would also be part of in-year savings that would not impact the baseline £34 billion budget for 2015-16.

Instead of spending up to the budget limit, departments including the MoD would deliver underspends, it said

The spending cuts would not impact current operations, manpower levels or the baseline defense budget for this year, Fallon said.


Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.

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