Commentary: Boosting defence spending now won’t fix NATO’s decades of under-investment

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The most talked-about weapons, next-generation light anti-tank weapons (NLAWs), were developed by the Swedish company Saab in a joint venture between the Swedish and British defence ministries. Although overall production figures are not public, the initial NLAW project in the British Army was for an acquisition of 14,002 units.

The US has sent 7,000 Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to Ukraine. This is one-third of US stocks of the missile. 

While using up legacy stocks of missiles allows NATO members to freshen their stockpiles with the latest versions, use is outstripping production. Under-investment and the false logic of preparing for a “come-as-you-are” war have come home to roost.

In concluding her speech, Truss said: “We thought that we’d learned the lessons of history and that the march of progress would continue unchallenged. We were wrong.” 

How much will the West learn from the invasion of Ukraine and, more importantly, will the lessons of history stick this time? There is no evidence to suggest they will.

Kenton White is a Lecturer in Strategic Studies and International Relations at the University of Reading. This commentary first appeared in The Conversation.