The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, has said that he believes the British Army is too small to effectively tackle threats to British interests.
Asked by Soldier Magazine if the conflict in Ukraine has put a spotlight on the size of the British Army said:
“It’s certainly highlighted the fact that mass and size are important. I’m not comfortable with an Army of just 73,000. It’s too small. That was never part of our proposition going into the review. In fact, I was working to direction that we regrow the Army to 82,000 – and we have done that successfully over the past four years.
So being limited to 73,000 people was quite a surprise – and it’s a bit of an arbitrary figure because it’s just a price point. What’s important is that it’s an amalgamation of what we think we can afford and what we can translate into a coherent, balanced capability.”
You can read more of the interview here.
What is the ‘Chief of the General Staff’?
The Chief of the General Staff (CGS) is the professional head of the Army, with responsibility for developing and generating military capability from an integrated Army (Regular and Reserve) and for maintaining the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Service.
The CGS reports to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and, as a Service COS, has a right of direct access to the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister. The CGS is a member of the Defence Council and the Army Board, the Armed Forces Committee, the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Senior Appointments Committee. The Ministry of Defence say here that the Chief of the General Staff:
- maintains the institutional health of the Army by exercising Full Command responsibility for all Army personnel
- ensures the efficient and effective governance of the service
- chairs the Executive Committee of the Army Board and the Army Command Group
- contributes to the conduct of defence higher level business, with a particular responsibility for providing specialist advice on Army matters
- develops future Army capability within the context of Defence strategic direction and resource allocation
- leads the senior management team of the British Army