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PM: More Drone And SAS Missions To Fight IS

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Britain should spend more of its defence budget on SAS operations, drone missions and RAF strikes to counter Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, David Cameron has told defence chiefs.

The move follows Chancellor George Osborne's Budget announcement that Britain would meet NATO's defence spending pledge of 2% of its national income for the next five years, which would boost budgets to £47.7bn a year by 2020.

Mr Cameron said: "As Prime Minister, I will always put the national security of our country first.

"That's why it is right that we spend 2% of our GDP on defence because this investment helps to keep us safe.

"It has only been possible because of the difficult decisions we have made to ensure a strong and secure economy.

"Now we know how much we will spend, what matters next is how we spend it.

"I have tasked the defence and security chiefs to look specifically at how we do more to counter the threat posed by ISIL (IS) and Islamist extremism.

"This could include more spy planes, drones and special forces."

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "This is the first time in some years that the defence budget has gone up. It gives us a position of strength."

Britain's military top brass and officials are expected to conclude their Strategic Defence and Security Review in the autumn.

Mr Cameron wants the review to prioritise resources which will help to protect the UK from evolving threats - not only terrorism and extremism - but also an increasingly aggressive Russia and the risks posed by cyberattacks.

The review will also examine how the Royal Navy can work with partners such as the US to use the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to deploy drones and special forces against militants.

Mr Cameron is today visiting RAF Waddington, the UK's drone base in Lincolnshire, from where operators fly unmanned aircraft over Iraq and Syria as part of the US-led coalition campaign against IS.

RAF jets have struck targets in Iraq, although ministers have begun setting out the case to expand the bombing campaign to Syria.

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