It comes as experts warn that the state of the current cuts, due to be confirmed next month, have already rendered the service unable to defend itself against Russian aggression. An ex-general said they would leave Britain “by going up to the bottom and inviting anyone who wishes us a hard time to park their bikes there”.
Under last March’s defense command document, the 80,000-strong army will shrink 11 percent to just 72,500 troops by 2025 with tanks, artillery scrapped and land sold as ‘she tries to meet the challenges of future war.
While the Royal Navy, which recently provided the new Chief of Defense Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, is firmly at the center of the government’s largely maritime ambitions of global Britain, the military – once so dominant in Afghanistan and Iraq – has now firmly become “the runt of the litter,” said General Sir Richard Barrons.
On the equipment side, the writing is already on the wall.
Scrapping 227 Challenger 2 tanks will only leave 148 better performing Challenger 3 tanks; hundreds of AS-90 artillery guns will go without replacement; 600 warriors, essential to allow the infantry to operate with tanks, should leave by 2025; 200 Scimitars, still in use, will go.
A contract for 400 US-made Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JVLTs) has been canceled and Ajax – a deep strike reconnaissance and strike vehicle touted as the cornerstone of the British Army’s new posture – is mired in challenges. technological problems and could also be abandoned.
Plans to reduce the size of the military to around 65,000 had already been launched before the release of the Defense Command document, but were rejected due to a £ 16.5 billion increase.
However, this money, spread over three years, would be the amount needed to fill the “funding back hole” of the Department of Defense.
The new proposals have already been presented to commanders and will be discussed by senior officers at a meeting held by the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith next month, following what is expected to be a “hard hand” of Chancellor Rishi Sunak. in the October 27 budget.
The plans – which have not been denied by the Defense Ministry – led a high-level source last night to note that “what was already a slaughter of abilities is now a bloodbath”
Speaking last night, General Sir Richard Barrons, who headed the Joint Forces Command until 2016, said: “We know the military needs to invest a lot more in air and missile defense, in firepower. long-range precision, protected mobility suitable for urban areas and able in a way that can disperse, as large armored formations are just targets now.
“We have seen in Ukraine that Russia can destroy them in just 20 minutes. Hiding in the woods will not be enough.
“The problem is, we don’t have anything to replace these things yet. This means that the British Army will face a ten year strategic gap, where you will be left with a gendarmerie that does not cut it off from peer and state capabilities, which is not good against Russia. and will not make a significant contribution to NATO.
“This equipment exists and if we can’t produce it, we have to buy it. We just can’t afford to wait ten years while we sort this out, or we’ll find ourselves lying on the floor with our buttocks up and inviting anyone who wants to hurt us to park their bikes there.
Robert Clark, Defense Expert with the Henry Jackson Society Thank You Tank, said: “The backbone of the British Army for the past 75 years has been to provide conventional deterrence through a division of armored warfare combat, which is now obsolete.
“We have two tank regiments, which is laughable, a replacement for an infantry fighting vehicle that is nowhere in sight and our reconnaissance vehicle, Ajax, is inundated with delays.”
He said that while the military focused on capabilities such as “information maneuvers”, “combined operations” and “integrated domains”, “you cannot deny territory and kill the enemy with it. laptop or from space, nor protect global interests in Europe, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific without capable and credible infantry.
“From that moment on, the British army will no longer be able to line up an armored brigade, either with allies or in isolation.
“What remains for us is a force that can make national resilience – if too many regional bases are not removed – training missions abroad, battles in gray areas with the new regiment of Rangers and that’s it.
Former Chief of the General Staff General Lord Dannatt said the appointment of Admiral Radakin as CDS shows how the military “is not in a very happy situation at the moment. “.
He added: “It seems the British Army is heading in the same direction that the Canadian Army took 20 years ago when the decision was made to focus on peacekeeping while waging war. slowly.
“But they found that if you allow your core combat to erode your peacekeeping skills aren’t that good either and in 2006 they started to become more capable again.”
Asked about the proposed 22% cut, an army spokesperson said: “In the spring it was announced in parliament that the military would be restructured to deal with future threats as we implement the results. of the integrated review. “
“Structural reform plans are not yet finalized, so speculation at this point is unnecessary and misleading. Detailed plans will be submitted to ministers later this fall and decisions made public once finalized. “