The Ministry of Defence has denied it may reopen the Strategic Defence and Security Review as it struggles to implement the £8bn cuts imposed by the government.
Despite cuts of around 7.5 per cent announced in the SDSR, defence thinktank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) last week suggested that the ministry still faced an annual shortfall of between £1bn and £2bn.
Cuts such as the scrapping of ships, jets, spy planes, tanks and artillery as well as the closure of some bases and the loss of 42,000 MoD and armed forces personnel was meant to claw back £8bn a year by 2015. But the MoD is reportedly only able to find cuts of around £7bn, sparking fears of more front line cuts.
Two ‘senior defence figures’ quoted in the Financial Times said reopening the SDSR could not be ruled out as a way of dealing with the deficit.
However, a MoD spokeswoman later said that while the ministry was continuing to ‘develop and refine’ its SDSR implementation plans, the review itself would not be reopened.
Professor Malcolm Chalmers of RUSI said ‘very difficult decisions’ would have to be made in coming weeks and that ‘cuts in capabilities beyond what was announced’ would be required.
One senior figure quoted in the FT said that the new MoD permanent secretary Ursula Brennan was keeping a closer eye on spending than her predecessors
‘She doesn’t do the old thing of pretending that the money is there when it isn’t, which is refreshing but challenging,’ the source said.