“We established a programme that we called Operation Mobilise to mobilise the British Army to make it ready for war in Europe”.
The British Army’s enhanced focus on war preparedness in Europe was discussed during a session of the Defence Committee where MP Derek Twigg sought to understand the current state of operational readiness.
Responding to Twigg, General Sir Patrick Sanders outlined the purpose behind the rigorous readiness programme, Operation Mobilise. “We established a programme that we called Operation Mobilise to mobilise the British Army to make it ready for war in Europe,” he said, recognising the need to fill significant capability gaps.
The session illuminated the stark challenges faced by the Army, such as reduced stockpiles and aging equipment, and the efforts taken to modernise and improve training regimes. General Sanders provided a stark assessment of the initial conditions:
“We are carrying a number of things that will not be a surprise to this Committee: stockpiles that are reduced, a range of equipment that is coming to the end of its life—it is a very ambitious programme of modernisation that I have a huge amount of confidence in—and levels of training that were inadequate.”
Despite the logistical difficulties in supporting Ukrainian resistance efforts, the British Army has significantly intensified its training operations. General Sanders noted, “In 2020-21, only 10% of the Army’s battle groups did combined arms manoeuvre training. We were coming from a pretty low base, and then that low base was exacerbated by the requirement to give equipment, ammunition and stockpiles to the Ukrainians.”
The commitment to Operation Mobilise has already yielded a substantial increase in training exercises. “We have a 150% increase in the level of combined arms manoeuvre unit training in the Army since we announced Operation Mobilise. By next year, 90% of the Army’s battle groups will have gone through combined arms manoeuvre training,” the General emphasised.
General Sanders also shared details of an upcoming, ambitious training deployment, which is set to be the largest since the cold war era, as part of the efforts to assure the Army’s preparedness.
On stockpile concerns, General Sanders provided assurances of significant improvements within a set timeframe. “I am confident that we will have sufficient stockpiles for fighting, among the brigades that would make up a division, within a year or two.”
He also mentioned advances in equipment readiness, “We have replaced some of the artillery pieces that we gave away—we did that within two months—and we have doubled the amount of logistics lift, in one buy, for the whole of the British Army.“