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Frank Spring: Transatlantic Defense for the 21st Century

One week in July, the United States Senate the court of public opinion in the United Kingdom came down against military spending on two fundamental Cold War-era defense policy staples: a sudden and dramatic escalation in air superiority, and nuclear deterrence. Both developments represent a move toward a modern Transatlantic defense posture better suited to the conflicts of the 21st century. The Senate voted 58-40 to cut funding for more F-22 Raptors, signaling an eventual end to the fighter’s role in defense policy. Current budgeting provides for the United States to have 187 active-duty F-22s by the end of 2011, but the Senate vote on July 21 could have provided $1.7 billion for an additional seven F-22s and left the door open for a larger order. Instead, the F-22 will be phased out in favor of the F-35, a cheaper option that provides more flexibility in supporting ground operations, at a cost to its air-to-air capabilities. Several days before and an ocean away, a poll in the United Kingdom showed that more than half of all Britons oppose renewing Britain’s nuclear deterrent--the submarine-based Trident missile system. This is further political bad news for embattled Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who, as chancellor, pledged in 2006 to renew Trident (at the time, 51% of those polled supported the measure), and has occasioned a round of calls for the project’s budget—some 20 billion pounds—to be spent on conventional forces.



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