General Sir Patrick Sanders has said that the British Army is not mobilising to provoke war – it is mobilising to prevent war
The Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders’ speech at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference 2022 can be found here, below is an excerpt.
“I stand here as the first Chief of the General Staff since 1941 to take up this position in the shadow of a major state on state land war in Europe. As I do, I’m reminded of the words of a man in whose footsteps I tread. In relative obscurity, and recognising the impending danger the nation faced, the then Brigadier Bernard Montgomery wrote this in the pages of that magnificent publication Royal Engineers’ Journal of 1937:
We have got to develop new methods, and learn a new technique…. There is no need to continue doing a thing merely because it has been done in the Army for the last thirty or forty years – if this is the only reason for doing it, then it is high time we changed and did something else.
For us, today, that “something else” is mobilising the Army to meet the new threat we face: a clear and present danger that was realised on 24th February when Russia used force to seize territory from Ukraine, a friend of the United Kingdom. But let me be clear, the British Army is not mobilising to provoke war – it is mobilising to prevent war.”
The steps to do this were outlined later in the speech.
“To mobilise the Army I intend to drive activity across four focused lines of effort:
First, and most importantly, boosting readiness. NATO needs highly ready forces that can deploy at short notice for the collective defence of alliance members. Deterring Russia means more of the Army ready more of the time, and ready for high-intensity war in Europe. So we will pick up the pace of combined arms training, and major on urban combat. We will re-build our stockpiles and review the deployability of our vehicle fleet. And having seen its limitations first-hand as the Commander of the Field Army, I think we need to ask ourselves whether Whole Fleet Management is the right model given the scale of the threat we face. The time has come to be frank about our ability to fight if called upon.
Second, we will accelerate the modernisation outlined in Future Soldier. NATO needs technologically advanced modern armies able to deploy at speed and fight together. They must be able to integrate effects across the domains, all stitched together by a sophisticated and robust command, control and communication network. We will seek to speed up the delivery of planned new equipments including long range fires, attack aviation, persistent surveillance and target acquisition, expeditionary logistic enablers, Ground Based Air Defence, protected mobility, and the technologies that will prove pivotal to our digital ambition: CIS and Electronic Warfare. Most importantly, this will start now – not at some ill-defined point in the future.
Third, we will re-think how we fight. We’ve been watching the war in Ukraine closely and we are already learning and adapting. Not least to the help of RUSI, Many of the lessons are not new – but they are now applied. We will double-down on combined arms manoeuvre, especially in the deep battle, and devise a new doctrine rooted in geography, integrated with NATO’s war plans and specific enough to drive focused, relevant investment and inspire the imagination of our people to fight and win if called upon.
And Fourth, I am prepared to look again at the structure of our Army. If we judge that revised structures will make the Army better prepared to fight in Europe, then we will follow Monty’s advice and do “something else”. Now of course adapting structures has implications for the size of the Army – and I know that there will be questions on Army numbers locked, loaded and ready to fire from the audience! Put simply, the threat has changed and as the threat changes, we will change with it. My job is to build the best Army possible, ready to integrate with fellow Services and Strategic command and ready to fight alongside our allies. Obviously our Army has to be affordable; nonetheless, it would be perverse if the CGS was advocating reducing the size of the Army as a land war rages in Europe and Putin’s territorial ambitions extend into the rest of the decade, and beyond Ukraine.”