A poll conducted by ICM Research for the Ministry of Defence has found that just 15% of those surveyed ’strongly agree’ that the UK Armed Forces is well equipped.

ICM interviewed ‘a representative sample’ of over 1,000 British adults between June and July last year.

Respondents were asked how far they agree with the statement ‘The UK Armed Forces are well equipped’. Just 15% of those surveyed responded with ‘strongly agree’, while 57% responded with one of the varied levels of disagreement.

41% were not aware that the UK is currently taking delivery of 2 new aircraft carriers and the F-35

When broken down, the respondents believe the British Army is the worst equipped service, with 15% believing is is well equipped, compared to 20% for the Royal Navy, and 27% for the RAF.

Other noteworthy results included 89% of people believing that military make ‘a positive contribution to the UK’, and 79% of people believing the UK are having a positive impact in ‘defeating Da’esh’.

Most overwhelmingly, 86% of respondents believe ‘The Ministry of Defence needs to invest in state-of-the-art technology and equipment in order to protect national security’.

The underlying trend showcased by the poll suggests a lack of public understanding of the armed forces, as well as varied levels of dissatisfaction as to how they’re deployed. Many were also unaware of the locations of current deployments, with only 3% knowing of the UK’s presence in Estonia.

The full report can be found here.


  1. Interesting.

    But my thought is – who are the people who they asked? Do they have any knowledge on HM forces capabilities and equipment, or are they just people in the street who could not tell the difference from a Tornado to a Typhoon?

    • Or a Bombardier from a Brigadier as the late Richard Holmes said. Still, there have been plenty of news stories about cuts in defence and shortages of vital equipment so you’d have to be a bit obtuse not to know something of the problems.

    • Exactly Daniele. If they are Mail Online readers a small number of them might have some small knowledge as for example we have no planes to fly off of our Carriers, or that we should have built more Harriers instead of buying the useless F 35. But of course members of the public with such vast understanding of the subject are few and far between.:)
      A truly inane survey

  2. I don’t know that it’s completely useless a survey as suggested. We have to remember that the average member of the public will have a lot less knowledge and exposure to military matters than people who actively go looking for it, such as ourselves. Results showing how the public think about defence can serve to highlight where the MoD is failing at engaging them and thus help direct the discussion. This is where it falls down, you are never going to get the titanic shift in defence spending needed unless you have the public clamouring for it, as seen with the NHS recent magic increases.

    Only 3% know we are deployed in Estonia? How long does this get airtime on the news channels? A 2 minute segment once every couple of hours only on the day it is announced? Max. Get your different ranks out there offering interviews, writing columns and talking about it at careers events. Not everyone wants to hear on sky news from Air Vice Marshal Sir blar blar…

  3. This is good news for us. It doesn’t matter who these people are, it is the average British person who pays for this stuff with our taxes. British people in general would be happy to spend more on defence to protect national security, and that is good news for those of us on here.

    • Exactly the right point Stephen. In the end its Joe Public who sets the political agenda with their taxes and their votes. With them on your side you are far more likely to see defence priorities coming more to the fore as politicians realise that the wider public are aware of the deficiencies in equipment and capability.

  4. Ironically, i think the equipment is less of a problem than the manpower / unrealistic expectations on the armed forces considering the manpower.

    I suspect for the manpower the equipment levels aren’t too bad.

  5. Its a mistake to just abstract numbers from a report without context or qualification. For example on page 2 of this report people are asked “if you know the organisation very well, know a fair amount about it, know just a little about it, have heard of it but know almost nothing about it, or if you’ve never heard of it.” – 68% said they knew the RAF a fair amount or very well. The same percentage said the same about the RN and Marines.

    However, on page 10 the same people were asked “The Armed Forces will soon take delivery of the UK’s two new aircraft carriers and a fleet of F-35 aircraft.” Only 38% said they were aware of both and a further 19% were only aware of the carriers.

    Clearly the second set of answers seems inconsistent with 68% people stating they either “know very well” or “know a fair amount” about the RN and RAF. So any interpretation of the survey data needs to factor in this type of anomaly.

    • It doesn’t really matter if what they believe their knowledge is aligned with the reality or not. The take away for me is not the 16% but that its closer to 50/50 on gear once you include the less extreme views and this explains why expenditure is low since policiticans work on votes and there doesn’t appear to be a clear view here for them to hook to. Spend more and you disappoint the side that thinks they are geared enough and so think money should go else where and spend less and same problem, so best to just ignore the topic.

      I wonder if this was pre or post the whole fall out between May and Williams.

  6. I do wonder if this is the number one failing of our armed forces chief’s making our civiliians aware of the role of the RN, RAF and Army, its equipment, personnel and missions.
    To have a nation with such low knowledge of this key public sector is worrying for me.
    I think the armed forces could do a lot more to make defence a vote wining and topical issue at the forefront of the nations awareness.
    School open days, career days etc should be awash with a strong armed forces presence.
    Town fairs and display days should also be considered an opportunity- this is all about raising awareness
    I think if the general public were aware of the perilous state of our armed forces they would all be shouting for a 3% GDP to defence ration right now and an immediate cut to foreign aid.
    The government are asleep at the wheel. May has no intellectual ability to consider anything else other than Brexit- just offer the EU the deal, if the EU says “no not good enough”, which we all know they will, once the mandarins in Brussels have looked through the 91 page white paper, walk away and keep our £40 billion separation divorce bill. £40 billion will pay for a lot of school repairs, social care, road repairs, and an reasonable uplift in defence equipment and personnel numbers.

  7. ‘School open days, career days etc should be awash with a strong armed forces presence.
    Town fairs and display days should also be considered an opportunity’

    At Cosford airshow last there were recruitment stands not just for the three branches but for individual corps and commands.

    • Agreed. This would however be a long term solution and won’t solve the problems of today.

      In my opinion what the armed forces need is to cut the top end equipment and focus more on the basics. Realistically we won’t be fighting alone and so needing all capabilities covered is old school thinking.

      What we need is sufficient forces to do basics, whether this is peace keeping in the Balkans or fighting the taliban in iraq/afgan. Equally fighting a 2nd falkland war or equiv would rely heavily on ground forces which are now badly under numbered.

  8. Steve the ground forces in the Falklands equated to circa 18000 personnel. We could easily do that force level even today. What we could not do is the equivalent naval force.
    We simply do not have the numbers of warships and subs needed.
    A maximum response task force which still left UK defended might be 1 QE carrier, 2-3, type 45s and 4-5, type 23s with an astute or maybe 2. That’s it.
    Not exactly the 36-40 warships committed to the Falklands task force, although the ships and subs are clearly more capable than they were in 1982. It is the size and fighting power of the Royal navy that worries more than any of the other armed forces branches. Army is small but still capable, ditto RAF. RN is undersized, not enough warships and is lacking fighting power.

    • could we really easily do it? 18k was the most we could get there at the time, a time when the army was almost 3x the size as today. Yes we have the numbers to do it in theory but most of the fighting was done by the marines/para and do we have enough often today to deploy on mass? Agreed the navy is another problem.

  9. The only reason we did not send an armoured division down there was a lack of heavy strategic lift in terms of naval carriage. Sending thousands of additional troops would have stretched the logistics to beyond breaking point.
    If the UK had 6-8 more Atlantic conveyor type vessels we could have deploy many more thousands of troops with the logistics support they would have needed to operate in the Falklands. It was not a lack of troop numbers that limited the ground forces deployed it was logistics and heavy strategic sea lift.

    • logistics is another area that has been cut to allow for high level glamour purchases like the carriers. Extra money won’t solve the problem, spending it more wisely will, along with some long term thinking rather than stupid sort term savings resulting in medium term increased costs, such as the housing mess.

    • Although let’s face it another falklands style war is insanely unlikely, due to the tiny nature of what remains of the empire.

      The real risk is another Iraq/Afgan, where our politicians want to take a leading role and so put in charge of an area that the army is too small to properly control.


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