General Ben Hodges, commander of the US Army in Europe, has said that he was worried that British forces were already stretched too far.

This comes not long after we reported that, according to the Annual Assurance Report released by the Defence Safety Authority, the majority of overseas helicopter training exercises have been cut due to costs.

The report identified “significant resource pressures across the Department, which are likely to lead to further changes to organisations and potentially outputs, owing to activity reductions”.

The General was quoted in the Financial Times as saying:

“British forces have global commitments right now. Any reduction in capability means you cannot sustain those commitments. That creates a gap.

I don’t know what the magic number is, but I do know that we need the capability that the British army provides, and any reduction in that causes a problem for the alliance as well as for the United States.”

Hodges served as a battalion executive officer with the 101st Airborne before becoming Aide-de-camp to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe in August 1995. He became a battalion commander in the 101st Airborne in 1997. He was Congressional Liaison Officer at the Office of the Chief of Legislative Liaison between 1999 and 2000.

After graduating from the National War College in 2001, Hodges served at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk. Taking command of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne in 2002, Hodges led the brigade in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

No long ago, American Colonel Dan Sullivan said cuts to the Royal Marines and the loss of two amphibious assault ships would change the military relationship between the US and UK.

“My message is to articulate how important having that capability in our partner is.

And how damaging I think it would be if our most important coalition partner potentially takes the hits that are projected right now. If you want to be decisive you have to be able to project power ashore at some point.

From a military standpoint as the UK continues to diminish and as the Royal Marines in particular take a hit, I think that our view of what we will be able to do together in the future changes.”

23 COMMENTS

  1. It will be interesting when the forces make their submitions whether they recommend cuts to combat units or HQ’s ? Am I too cynical if I suggest you don’t hold your breath ?

  2. to many chiefs and not enough indians thats seems to be the way of our forces now…since the wall came down our defence has been cut to ribbons,regardless of which party is in power..we have ended up relying upon foreign military to fill in the gaps we can no longer sustain but i fear that will come to an end as they will get sick of filling in our short comings…

    • Well Brexit doesn’t help. At base defence spending is a function of the size of the UK economy (all other things being equal) and thus anything that potentially hampers or limits the functioning of the economy is not good for our long-term defence spending. Given almost no economic modelling suggests being outside the EU will be good for UK PLC, then Brexit does play a key role in hampering UK defence. We are going to have to work hard in Brexit talks to minimise this potentially seriously disruptive effect.

  3. I keep hoping & praying the decades of cuts in our military have reached their lowest point & sanity will return to our defense spending. Despite the bare faced lies by our politicians which pull the wool over the electorates eyes, we’ve obviously been dipping below critical mass as vital capabilities have been lost, taking many years before even the prospect of restoration becomes apparent. Apart from our nuclear deterrent, what justifies us having a permanent seat on the security council? Several other nations now have nuclear weapons but also far larger conventional forces. Keeping our servicemen is a real problem as we’re not providing them with the full kit necessary to fight for us nor the pay worthy of putting their lives & limbs in harms way.

    We have always been a very, very wealthy country. Choices have been taken for decades to ensure most of our wealth is sucked up by the few for it to be squirreled away in offshore tax havens, which our gormless politicians have allowed to remain out of reach of the taxman. Meanwhile the majority have been taxed more, while having savage cuts inflicted on the services needed for a civilised society & strict pay freezes or restraint. Most people, comfortable, struggling(JAMs) or poor, have no choice but to pay their taxes & that’s how it should be. But for those fortunate enough to be very rich to escape with even a fraction of the proportional tax burden that everybody else pays is a crime, wether legalised or not.

    • I would have thought this would have made lefties finally figure out somethings:
      1. The Tax code will always have holes the people writing them are fallible. The rich actually have the money (and motivation) to find the holes, and would be fools not to. Middle and working class people do not.
      2. That excessive corporate taxation merely acts as a additional sales tax on the workers and middle class. Companies just calculate tax as another cost to compensate for. Then pass it on to the consumers.
      3. If you close every loophole or more likely just stole (nationalized) the wealthiest in society’s property you get Capital Flight. Translation for millennial- the rich people went elsewhere and took their toys with them.
      4. “Civilized society” many countries get on without these services. Perhaps the cuts to what people call vital public services are merely that politicians of 70yrs ago lied. They are not in the end sustainable.
      5. The only government services that are necessary the Military, Police, Maintenance of Infrastructure, and the Schools. Everything else is sheer wasteful profligacy. Distracting government from it’s primary duties.

      • Health and ambulance is not necessary? The judiciary is not necessary, fire fighters are not necessary? I could go on at great length. Failure to find the funds, or turn a blind eye to tax evasion, is worse than incompetence. Its criminal. The vast majority of our forces personnel are not rich or using tax avoidance schemes.

  4. It goes without saying that NATO needs EVERYONE’s capabilities!

    It is quite stark that the Tory government’s incessant cuts is making waves across the Atlantic.

  5. The real truth? The Brits are the only principle European country they can rely on in the short and long-term, as the rest may be handbound by the new EU armed force. There are no guarantees the EU Defense forces (let’s call it EUFD) will comply with NATO strategies, in fact, their very existence will only confuse the mode of operations.

    If NATO is diminished by the establishment of the EUDF, this will weld a greater reliance on British military partnership with the US, and this alone may be the reason for raising concerns about any diminishment of MOD budgets? If the EUFD does materialize, it will send a powerful message to America that Europe, can to a large extent, go it alone, without the bonds of NATO protocols. If this is not the aim, then why bother to form such an organization?
    The only winners will the Russians who will extremely happy to observe the conflagrations as the formation of two separate organizations, attempt to work in unison. NATO without America is inconceivable, EUFD without US defense assurances is a lame duck, you could not write this as fiction!

    • True. However America’s commitment to Europe has been weakened for decades by what is seen as the EU nations meddling and preaching about American foreign and domestic policy. While simultaneously either not supporting US military actions or only sending token forces with seriously hobbled rules of engagement. All the while in the American heartlands it is seen as starting to become a hindrance to defense of the nation not an asset at best. A blood sucking bunch of ungrateful parasites. Who are going to get America’s sons and daughters killed in some unpronounceable Eastern European hell hole far from home, at worst.

      Under these circumstances if a EUDF is formed. Guided by the foreign policy of Brussels, it would only be a matter of time before the US would be antagonized again. At which point the US would have three options. One decide that Europe is the only game in town and play along to get along, for less benefit than ever before.
      Option two say a “pox on both your houses to Brussels and Moscow”, “may you deeply enjoy one another.” Option three decide that if the EU is bound and determined to drift away decide to recalculate whether Russia or Europe is more useful to National Security.

      I give option one about as much chance as TH deciding that defense spending is a good idea and self-hatred is unhealthy. Options two and three flip a coin. Ends badly either way.

      • American public perception of overseas military commitments is different from the Pentagon’s, I’m sure of that. I believe American Government’s attitude towards Europe is little change from fifty years ago. Yes, there have been scale backs especially in terms of UK airbases with only RAF Lakenheath remaining in ten years or so, if current fiscal policy continues. However, if the EUDF does take root, plans to transfer to airbases in Germany may be halted? I’m sure the US will want to hold onto its European assets, but if this becomes increasingly difficult, a pullback to British shores can’t be ruled out?
        Post-Brexit mood may see the UK and the US perceived as old school thinking, in regards to their relevance in future European defense strategies? But, as I mentioned above, without the ‘Old Boys’ Europe / EU, has little chance of retaining its freedom in the long term.

        • Half true. What the US Officer and NCO Corps say in front of cameras and what they say amongst themselves are oftentimes entirely different. The Pentagon and State Department also usually are inhabited in the US by entirely different people of much different perspectives. Example people who work for State overwhelmingly supported Clinton while Trump won over 2/3 of the veterans vote. Remember his stances on the EU.

          The US military would like to keep it’s bases in Europe or failing that at least the UK. Nevertheless while the State Department forgave and forgot about how many European countries behavior during Vietnam the military did not. The diplomats like to gloss over EU treatment of American allies like Israel. The military remembers American policy being undermined going all the way back to Yom Kippor. With so called “allies” denying use of US bases to resupply Israeli defenses.

          So yes America would first pull back to the UK. Then if say you get a Jeremy Corbyn leaking intel to terrorists or talking out of his ass about how America has mistreated everyone from Mexico to Joe jihadi and Karl Marx. Once at that point you would probably see America once more go back into thinking of Europe as alien and it’s only major allies being Latin America, RIMPAC countries, Japan, the ROK and Israel.

          • Interesting points, and yes, it’s entirely possible the US could wash its hands of the EU and Russia and seek alliance with Russia, rather than confrontation. Reduced threat on its western coast, maybe a little increased on its eastern. Might even be a good idea for “world peace” whatever that is.

  6. The EU Defence Force became a scary thing for Brexiteers and particularly Brexit media to scare the British public into “We’ll lose our own armed forces”.

    The proposed reality is completely different. A £1.5 billion annual budget from 2020, that’s EU not each member state, streamlined command structure and communications, voluntary contributions from member states, in the same way NATO gets voluntary contributions, but with less “pessure”.

    There’s also increased co-operation anyway between NATO and the EU, so it’s not likely to interfere with NATO. As much as anything, it’s probably similar to the Nordic states Nordefco. Sounds like a good idea to me, as a complemenary thing, not a replacement.

    The US’s problem with the EU is more the relatively low level of defence budgets in terms of GDP, the slow movement of them to the 2% target agreed in Wales, though I think the target date for that was 2023. Also the reluctance at times for EU member states to join in with NATO operations unless they’re totally sanctioned by the UN, whereas the UK follows every time.

    • The eu have trouble managing their economy so how will they fair with something more important? I think that as far as the UK military is concerned the status quo should remain. The eu army will be in conflict with NATO. Which forces of the eu army would be allocated to NATO. You will find countries will be complaining f they contribute more than others. The eu has trouble getting two nations to agree how will they get unanimous agreement for a defence force?

  7. OVERSEAS AID Can I make a suggestion? I don’t think we have a cat’s chance in hell of doing away with it, nor do I think we should but maybe we make a dent. I have written to my own MP and four others locally arguing that the O A B be pegged at £10 billion, including the £1 billion that goes to the E U. for at least the next four years. Having a fixed amount does away with the percentage link and frees up £3 to £4 billion a year

    . IF WE ALL WRITE IT MAY HELP REGISTER WITH LOCAL MP’S AND AT THE VERY LEAST WE CAN BE SATISFIED THAT WE TRIED.

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