A major new report from the UK National Defence Association (UKNDA) highlights the weaknesses in Britain’s present-day military capabilities and calls for a halt to the Government’s “perilous” defence cuts.
“The State of the Nation’s Armed Forces” is co-authored by three leading military experts – Admiral Lord West, General Sir Michael Rose, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon. The report details significant capability gaps in the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force as a result of recent and ongoing cuts to the defence budget.
The three co-authors set out the case for an expansion of Britain’s Armed Services – more ships, more troops, and more aircraft. Admiral Lord West, a former head of the Royal Navy, argues for an increase in the number of frigates/destroyers and nuclear attack submarines, explaining that “the ability of our military to protect the nation from the shock of the unexpected has diminished to a perilous degree” and that “the Royal Navy is too small to meet all the commitments expected of it”.
In Admiral Lord West’s view, defence funding must be increased to the equivalent of 3% of GDP. An increased defence budget is “vital to the survival and wealth of our nation and people”.
General Sir Michael Rose, who commanded UN forces in Bosnia, argues that the latest reductions in regular Army manpower and over-reliance on the Territorial Army “could prove fatal” to the UK’s strategic capability. “Given the past run-down of the TA including the closure of TA centres, the reduction in man training days and lack of funding for recruitment campaigns, it is clearly not possible to increase the trained manpower of the Reserves in time to compensate for regular soldiers being made redundant.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, a former head of the RAF, writes that “whole capabilities are absent today, such as Maritime Patrol and Long Range Electronic Reconnaissance, whilst the loss of the Harrier GR9 fleet has left the nation with no sea-borne offensive air support in addition to a serious reduction in numbers of close air support aircraft so vital in operations such as Libya or Afghanistan.”
Numbers, says Sir Michael, will be “the greatest challenge in the years ahead. Mass matters, and all the armed forces, the Royal Navy and RAF in particular, will have to find a better balance between the demands of high tech warfare and the simple fact that quantity has a quality of its own; it will require an honest recognition that without the United States we are severely restricted in what we can actually achieve.”
Source: UK National Defence Association
Date: Jan 7, 2013