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UK Ministry of Defence reveals Defence Loan Service Personnel expenditure

The UK Ministry of Defence has released the latest data regarding the Defence Loan Service Personnel, shedding light on the costs associated with the deployment of personnel to various countries. The information report, released under Freedom of Information, provides valuable insights into the financial and ethical implications of Britain maintaining military presence abroad.

The list detailed as many as 230 military personnel (the MOD rounded up) posted to the British embassy in some 85 countries. This list, with accompanying costs, represents Britain’s overseas Defence Liaison Personnel serving in 2022.  

One of these personnel’s roles is to sell Britain’s defence exports to those that are buying. The total global cost for 2022 was as much as £40 million (the MOD did not give a breakdown of each cost), and could be much higher, with some countries costing more than £1 million.

Of note, of the 31 countries the UK considered ‘Human Rights Priority Countries’ (in 2021), the UK has defence attaches in 14 – almost half of them: Yemen, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China, Russia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. 

This means the UK government could have spent as much as £5.5m on sending defence attaches to countries of human rights concern. It is imagined, of course, that some of these costs would be for protective measures, but the MOD refused to provide details of these costs.

The countries with defence attaché costs in excess of £1 million in 2022 include Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq, China, Germany, Australia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Oman, India, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United States. These countries are some of the largest and most influential in the world, with significant military capabilities and geopolitical importance. However, many of these countries also have significant human rights concerns.

China stands criticised for its treatment of Uighur Muslims and other minority groups, and has been accused of using forced labour and mass detention in Xinjiang. Saudi Arabia has an appalling record on human rights, including the treatment of women and minorities, and has been condemned for its involvement in the Yemeni civil war. In other countries, such as Pakistan and Nigeria, the military has played a significant role in politics, with human rights abuses being reported in the context of counter-terrorism and internal security operations. In Iraq, there have been reports of extrajudicial killings and torture by government forces and militias, while in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s return to power has raised concerns about the treatment of women and minorities. 

To what degree Britain’s defence attaches are engaged with such issues, and to what degree their focus is more on selling British weapon systems is unclear.

In detail, according to the data, the Ministry of Defence incurred costs up to £500,000 in 2022 for Defence Loan Service Personnel in several countries. Among the nations listed in this category are Jamaica, Moldova, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Uzbekistan, and Austria, indicating the diverse range of global commitments undertaken by the UK military. Other countries include Mali, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Tunisia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Latvia, Albania, Ghana, Ethiopia, Algeria, Greece, Brunei, Thailand, Romania, Denmark, Dublin, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Finland, Indonesia, Uganda, Nepal, Kuwait, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, Norway, the Czech Republic, Senegal, Chile, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sweden, Estonia, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland, New Zealand, Croatia, Fiji, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Morocco, and Russia.

Moreover, the report also highlights countries where the costs exceeded £500,000 in 2022. This group consists of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Serbia, Columbia, Qatar, Sudan, Canada, South Africa, Italy, Singapore, Macedonia, Kenya, Georgia, Israel, and Japan. The higher expenditure in these nations reflects the complexity and intensity of the UK’s military commitments in those regions.

Furthermore, the data reveals another category, “Countries with costs in excess of £1M (2022),” signifying countries where the expenses surpassed £1 million. These nations include Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq, China, Germany, Australia, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Oman, India, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and the United States. The substantial costs associated with these countries demonstrate the significant investment made by the UK Ministry of Defence in maintaining military cooperation and partnerships worldwide.

In addition to the breakdown of expenditure by country, the release provided an overview of Service liaison personnel overseas categorized by region. According to the information presented, the Americas hosted 60 liaison personnel, followed by 50 in the Asia Pacific region, 40 in Europe, and 80 in the Middle East/Africa.

The release of this comprehensive data from the UK Ministry of Defence offers transparency and insight into the financial commitments of the Defence Loan Service Personnel. The report emphasizes the UK’s dedication to international cooperation and security, showcasing the wide range of countries where the UK military is actively engaged.