Britain could enter into a period of relative military decline and without a fresh strategic defence review, there is a fear this decline will become irreversible which will impact on our standing in the international arena.
The current government is considering pursuing massive cuts to all three arms of our armed forces including the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines. The statistics speak for themselves. Our military will be cut to its lowest strength for centuries – even lower than during the Napoleonic conflict with future army strength predicted to be lower than the current 82,000 regular troops in the British Army.
Furthermore, I remain sceptical, to say the least, whether this government is able to raise enough reservists to fulfil the functions of the regular army. By the end of the Cold War the changing political landscape in the form of the collapse of the Soviet Union and Communism gave our political leaders the rationale to downsize our armed forces.
This legacy continued during 2000s. Although Britain’s commitments multiplied with further engagements in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, and later in Afghanistan and Iraq. It can be argued that Britain punched above its weight – but has not matched its foreign policy commitments to its military resourcing which led to a growing capabilities gap. The expectations of our political leaders it can be argued are becoming wholly unrealistic.
What is needed is a Fresh Strategic Defence review that answers what role should Britain’s armed forces play and seek to fund them accordingly. Maybe then we can properly relate Britain’s commitments to its capabilities.