The size of the British Army will be reduced as part of a move towards automation and cyber warfare.
The cut will leave the British Army at 70,000 troops.
Numbers in the regular Army will be reduced to about 70,000 soldiers but it is understood that this will be achieved as people leave the forces, rather than redundancies.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show that despite this, the overall effect of the ‘Integrated Review‘ was an increased defence budget.
The changes will be detailed in todays ‘Defence Command Paper’.
When this was last discussed, former defence minister Lord Robathan said the plan was “bonkers”. In a House of Lords debate he said:
“I follow what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, said because I fear that the reduction people have been speaking about—the plans to cut the army to a ceiling of 72,000—are true. Now, this is nuts. It is completely bonkers. I would like to quote Kim Darroch, who was our ambassador in the United States and is now the noble Lord, Lord Darroch. He was addressing a defence committee recently, and I thank the right honourable John Spellar for pointing this out to me. The noble Lord, Lord Darroch, said:
‘I would be really worried about reducing further the size of the British Army. I say that in part on the basis of my experience in Washington. I would go into the Department of Defense and occasionally to see General Mattis myself or to take people in to see him and his predecessor under the Obama Administration. One of the things that both would say consistently is, ‘You are already too small—in terms of your Army. I mean, 80,000 just isn’t good enough. You need to be above 100,000. It is a big mistake to reduce to the level you are at. For goodness’ sake, do not go down any further and expect to retain your current level of credibility in Washington.’
Those are powerful words from a noble Lord who sits as a Cross-Bencher, not as a Conservative. The current coronavirus crisis shows the need for manpower—perhaps we call it people power in these politically correct days—in helping to organise the Nightingale hospitals, as my noble friend mentioned, and for the vaccinations that are still being done through military personnel. I think we used to call it military aid to civil authority. You need a disciplined force for that, and as an insurance policy to cope with the unexpected. By the way, we are about to face rocketing unemployment levels, so recruitment should become easier. We do not want to add to that unemployment.”
A spokesperson for the MoD said:
“Last November the Prime Minister announced the biggest increase to defence spending since the Cold War. This will underpin the modernisation of the Armed Forces following the conclusions of the Integrated Review, cement our place as a leader in NATO and bring jobs and prosperity to every part of the UK.
The Army will continue to have the numbers and capability required to protect the UK. As the threat changes our Armed Forces must change. Following the record financial settlement, they are being redesigned to confront future threats, not re-fight old wars.”
We recently reported some of the changes coming to the British Army as part of changes brought about by the Future Land Combat System document. One of the most drastic changes is that Brigade Combat Teams will be formed as self-sufficient tactical combat units.
In a now deleted section of their website (perhaps the details were revealed a bit too early as the defence white paper accompanying the Integrated Review isn’t released untiul the 22nd of March), the British Army discussed the changes that will soon be implemented as part of the Integrated Review.