By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 30 January 2023 • 9:38
British Army - Image Presslab / Shutterstock.com
The unnamed officer is believed to have told the minister that decades of savings needed to be reversed if the country was going to regain its fighting status, particularly in light of the war in Ukraine.
Sources within the ministry speaking to Sky News on Monday, January 30 said: “Bottom line… it’s an entire service unable to protect the UK and our allies for a decade.”
The same sources warn that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was in danger of failing as a wartime leader unless he took urgent action to address the growing threat from Russia.
They say that the reduction in the size of the army needed to be halted and a further £3 billion needed to be invested in the military. But that may be easier said than done with the UK facing extraordinary budget pressures.
Continuing the sources said: “History will look back at the choices they make in the coming weeks as fundamental to whether this government genuinely believes that its primary duty is the defence of the realm or whether that is just a slogan to be given lip service.”
Experts say that the UK’s armed forces would run out of ammunition within days if called to fight and that it lacks the ability to effectively defend its skies. This is particularly true they say given the changes in warfare that are being seen in Ukraine, with the increased use of drones and other low-flying craft.
They add that to scale-up could take between five and ten years to fill the gap with some 30 per cent of the forces reservists, who would be unable to mobilise within NATO timelines.
To add to the problem much of the UK army’s equipment is said to be outdated.
Many other countries including France, Germany and Japan have already announced plans to shore up their armed forces but Sunak is said to be waiting for the problem “to go away.”
The armed forces have not been on Sunak’s agenda although he has announced a review of defence policy that is expected to report early March. Any new money will be dependent on the findings contained in the report.
The army is said to be in a much worse position than the navy and the air force, with the general saying that the UK now ranked alongside second-tier defence forces like Italy and Germany.
The General said that top-tier forces currently include the United States, Russia, China and France.
The situation has arisen over years of underfunding according to sources, as have procurement failures. Not helping the situation is the level of weapons and ammunition the UK has provided to Ukraine, which has further depleted resources.
Although former Prime Minister Boris Johnson increased defence spending by £16 billion in 2020, it is said that it fell well short of what is needed. Furthermore, that increase came prior to the war in Ukraine.
General Sir Richard Barrons, a former senior commander said: “The money needed to fix defence is small when compared to other areas of spending like health, welfare and debt interest. So this is a matter of government choices, not affordability.
“Defence can no longer be left at the bottom of the list… Why is this lost on Downing Street and the Treasury, but not in Paris or Berlin?”
Despite the warnings that the US no longer regards the British Army as a top-level fighting force, Sunak has so far resisted calls to increase spending on defence.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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