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Budget cuts are cracking the West's defenses

Facing budget shortfalls, Britain and France must make difficult choices that could reshape how Western allies meet common security challenges.

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The global economic crisis is forcing many of America’s European allies to make deep cuts in defense spending and procurement. This could have a significant impact on US transatlantic defense cooperation, especially with Britain and France. These two allies have had the greatest capability for power projection. Both countries now face difficult trade-offs as they decide how to modernize their nuclear deterrents, as well as their conventional forces.

The choices are especially acute for Britain. Its defense officials suggest that their defense budget may be cut by 10-20 percent over the next five years as part of the country’s drive to reduce debt. Like the Labour government before him, Prime Minister David Cameron is committed to maintaining Britain’s nuclear Continuous At Sea Deterrence (CASD). That means maintaining at least one strategic ballistic missile submarine (known as SSBN) at sea at all times and replacing the four Vanguard SSBNs armed with the Trident II Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM).

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