The UK government recently pledged to spend two percent of national wealth on defense until 2020 (as per NATO’s target) and Cameron’s call for a defense review came on July 13, following a recent spate of extremist attacks around the world.
The review is due to be concluded by the end of the year and is expected to include countermeasures to deal with a more aggressive Russia and the risks posed by cyber attacks, as well as the threat from the likes of ISIS, Al Qaeda Boko Haram and other Islamist jihad organizations.
"Because we’ve got a strong economy we can now make the commitment to spending more – over and above inflation – on defense, as much potentially as £6bn more between now and 2020, and that will make sure Britain is safer. One of the things that we need is making sure that we have the drones, spy planes and special forces," Cameron said.
Tornado and Reaper UAVs alone have flown over 1,000 missions and struck over 300 ISIS targets. But, the UK is also providing a support role for other countries with air-to-air refueling and other sophisticated airborne assets that play a vital role in enabling other nations to conduct strikes that they would otherwise be unable to do on their own.
In a report on the review, the BBC noted the US is now finding, to its cost, that it’s hard to attract and retain UAV pilots. The report said most pilots would prefer to fly jet fighters.
Maj. Gen. Jonathan Shaw, former director of Special Forces, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One that ISIS is not a military problem alone.
"If I was the commander of the force sent to defeat [ISIS]," he said, "I’d say ‘What is my political end state that I’m aiming to enable?’ Is it a unitary Iraq? Is it a unitary Syria? Because until you’ve worked out those questions you don’tknow who’s on your team."
In Syria, Britain’s UAVs are limited to a surveillance role — although government ministers recently began setting out the case to extend the bombing campaign to the terror group’s strongholds in that country.
The government is to meet this week to discuss the threat posed by ISIS and is seeking support from opposition members of parliament to extend the Royal Air Force’s air campaign to strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, as well as Iraq.