British Army ‘no longer able to defend UK and its allies, US general warns’
The British Army is no longer considered a top-tier fighting force, a senior US general reportedly told Defense Secretary Ben Wallace amid renewed concerns about Britain’s military spending.
Senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defense select committee, said the army was in a “terrible state” and urged Rishi Sunak’s government to reverse army cuts because we are at “war in Europe.”
This follows a warning from defense sources that budget cuts have led to the army’s decline in the eyes of world leaders. “You don’t have a first level — it’s hardly a second level,” a US general told Mr. Wallace, according to Sky News.
Sources told the station that the defense budget would need to be increased by £3bn a year to deal with the US’s problems, with one warning that the military was “unable to defend the UK and our allies for a decade”.
Lifting the US general’s comments in the Commons, Mr Ellwood said they were consistent with his own committee’s findings that the war in Ukraine had “exposed serious shortcomings in the combat capability of the British Army”.
While acknowledging budget problems, Secretary of Defense James Hippie said Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt understand that the army “urgently needs” more spending.
Mr. Hippie said that “consistent underfunding of the army over decades has left the army in dire need of recapitalization. The chancellor and the prime minister understand this, and the budget is ready.”
Mr Wallace, who had previously pressed No. 10 and the Treasury for more money, reiterated his candid assessment that the military was “devastated and underfunded” when Labor defied the cuts.
Labor Secretary of Defense John Healy told the Commons: “When Labor left government in 2010, the British Army had over 100,000 permanent troops and we were spending 2.5% of GDP on defence.”
In response, Mr Wallace: “I am happy to report that we are devastated and underfunded. Will he do the same? Or will he hide behind petty party politics?”
After an unnamed US general gave Mr Wallace an assessment, defense sources urged the government to further relax regulations that limit the UK’s ability to buy arms and ammunition.
Defense sources urged Mr. Sunak not to fail in his role as “wartime prime minister” by implementing plans to further downsize the army.
The army currently has 76,000 troops but will be reduced to 73,000 if plans for reductions are implemented. Among other things, most of the armored vehicles were built 30-60 years ago and are not subject to renewal for several years, and 30 percent of the “high readiness” military personnel are reservists.
However, some Defense Department officials said the UK is on track to develop its capabilities. “This is the best cycle right now with more new investment over the next ten years,” one source told Sky News. “As long as they don’t screw up with procurement, they’re well on their way to becoming a modern military.”
No. 10 also insisted that Britain remained an elite military power. Asked if Mr Sunak still believes the UK is a “top-tier” fighting force, his spokesman replied “Yes”, adding that the Prime Minister believes the British military has the “equipment and capability to counter threats”. they are facing.”
Mr. Sunak was the world’s first leader to send tanks to Ukraine, and the US and Germany followed suit. Speaking at a question and answer event in County Durham on Monday, the prime minister said the UK should be “really proud” of the actions it has taken to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine.
“We were the first major country to make [send tanks]. This has led other countries like America and Germany to say they will do the same,” he said.
Mr Sunak added: “This is really important because it will provide the support Ukraine needs to hopefully make more progress against Russia earlier this year.”
A government spokesman said the UK “has the largest defense budget in Europe and we have made the largest investment in the UK defense industry since the Cold War in 2020.”
They added: “We are providing our armed forces with the equipment and capabilities they need to face the threats of tomorrow, including through a £242bn fully funded 10-year equipment plan.”
Meanwhile, the Kremlin said Boris Johnson “lied” when the former prime minister said Russian President Vladimir Putin had threatened him with a missile strike.
When asked about Johnson’s comments on the new three-part series for BBC Two, Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied that the version of the British politician was not true. Or rather, it was a lie.