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.
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 global ambitions, 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 for the infantry to operate with tanks, are expected to disappear 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 technological problems and could also be scrapped.
Plans to reduce the size of the army 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.
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 should be a “hard hand” from 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 suited to urban areas, and a lane 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 is not 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 leaving you with a gendarmerie that will not be up to the capabilities of peers and the state which is not good against Russia. and will not make a significant contribution to NATO.
Robert Clark, Defense Expert for 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 to 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. “
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 very good either and in 2006 they started to become more capable again. “
Asked about the proposed 22% reduction, 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 examination. “
“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. “