The British military would only be able to maintain its full capabilities for just two months of war after over a decade of “hollowing out”, the parliament was told.
In the case of a war between the United Kingdom and a similarly-sized opponent, the British Armed Forces would exhaust their capabilities “after the first couple of months of the engagement,” said General Sir Nick Carter, the former Chief of the Defence Staff, a House of Commons defence committee report revealed.
General Lord Houghton told the committee that there has been a “hollowing out” of the Armed Forces since 2010, which has resulted in shortfalls in the country’s warfighting resilience.
The Ministry of Defence admitted that gaps in their warfighting readiness include insufficient infrastructure and warehousing for munitions, infrastructure at key ports and airbases, operational medical capacity, and armoured vehicle equipment support.
The Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, claimed that while the cuts to the military were necessary at the time they were enacted, but acknowledged that “there is a whole load of stuff that we disinvested in that we urgently need to reinvest in” and that the Minstry of Defence has “an awful lot of work to do to recover the… readiness that we enjoyed during the cold war, and that we require again now.”
In addition to suffering under lack of investment, the readiness of the military has also been diminished by aid to Ukraine. According to The Telegraph, the 155th Artillery Regiment is literally out of guns after they were shipped to Kyiv for the war effort against Russia.
UK Military Would Run Out of Ammo In One Day of Fighting Russia, Warns General https://t.co/Z5Bb1zLCUb— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 4, 2023
The House of Commons report also noted that “bottleneck in procurement and delivery” for the 6,000 NLAW anti-tank systems and 155mm artillery ammunition Britain sent to Ukraine will not likely to begin to be replenished at scale until later this year. Therefore, the report said that the MoD should be “strategic about the resources we have, including how to maintain and replenish stockpiles”.
The British armed forces have also struggled to hit recruiting targets and at present, only have around 75,000 soldiers in the army, approximately half that of thirty years ago. This has prompted suggestions from General Patrick Sanders, the head of the British army, that the UK may need to call upon a “civilian army” in the event of a major conflict.
The diminished fighting force is already having major implications, with the HMS Westminster and the HMS Argyll naval frigates set to be decommissioned over a reported lack of staff to man them.
The chairman of the committee, Jeremy Quin MP, said of the report’s findings: “While able to deploy at short notice and to fulfil commitments, our inquiry found that readiness for all-out, prolonged war has received insufficient attention and needs intense ongoing focus.”
“The high tempo of operations and unrelenting pressure on our services has led to a drop in retention, compounded by a period of low recruitment and difficulties introducing and maintaining capabilities, thereby creating a vicious cycle.”
The report comes just days after rare critisism was publicly aired about the British military from its chief ally, the United States. U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said last week that the UK should “reassess” its current strategy “given the threats that exist today” and that Britain should make a “decision around whether the army needs to be strengthened.”
Broken Britain: UK Aircraft Carrier Sidelined From Leading Largest Post-Cold War NATO Exercises over Propeller Problemhttps://t.co/ERhY8rXD0o— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 4, 2024