A report by the Defence Committee concludes that the UK Armed Forces have key capability and stockpile shortages and are losing personnel faster than they can recruit. Let’s take a look at the issues facing the British Army.

Read the full report by clicking here.

The Defence Committee said:

“Using open source evidence provided to us, we have below set out a range of capability gaps and readiness shortfalls in each of the Front Line Commands. We do not doubt that the Government will be able to point to procurement programmes and arrangements with Allies which alleviate the situation. Nevertheless, the evidence we have received demonstrates the scale of the issue.”

General Sir Nick Carter told the Defence Committee that the Army was the “weakest service” and that it had “significant capability deficiencies”. Both Dr Simon Anglim and General Lord Houghton questioned whether the UK could field the heavy division which is committed to NATO without an Ally providing a Brigade.

Professor Malcolm Chalmers questioned whether any such division could be deployed given that the British Army lacked both equipment and the logistics required to support it. Dr Rowan Allport of the Human Security Centre listed the capability resource and readiness shortfalls of the Army which he described as “substantial”.

These included:

  • The lack of Infantry Fighting Vehicle once Warrior is replaced by Boxer (which is an Armoured Personnel Carrier);
  • The lack of funding for new and upgraded systems with resources only available to procure 1,016 Boxer APCs out of a requirement for 1,305 and 61 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) of a requirement for 75, plus only eight recovery vehicles out of a requirement for 10;
  • The reduction in the fleet of Challenger tanks as they are upgraded to Challenger 3s and ammunition shortages for the Challenger 2’s 120mm rifled main gun;
  • The delay in the delivery of the Ajax Armoured Fighting Vehicle;
  • The readiness of the AS-90 self-propelled artillery fleet which has been reduced by the (necessary) donation of 30 vehicles to Ukraine. The announcement that the UK will purchase 14 Archer artillery systems is not a full recapitalisation;
  • Inadequate domestic air and missile defence capabilities. The British Army holds responsibility for the majority of UK ground-based surface-to-air missile unit but only one medium-range and one short-range SAM regular regiments, plus one short-range Army Reserve regiment, are in existence. Ballistic missile defences are absent. Electromagnetic and laser defence systems are largely still in development;
  • The bottleneck in procurement and delivery of the replacements for the roughly 6,000 NLAW anti-tank systems and 155mm artillery ammunition which have been vital in the Ukrainian Armed Forces fight against Russia. Replacements will only begin to be delivered at scale during 2024;
  • An absence of regular Army close support artillery, engineering, REME and logistics support within the 4th Light Brigade Combat Team, with only Army Reserve units in these roles attached. This leaves the brigade unusable at short notice;
  • A lack of air transport (chiefly sourced from the RAF) to support the ‘Persistent Engagement’ strategy. The forward deployment of Special Forces, elements of the Army Special Operations Brigade and Security Forces Assistance Brigade will require extensive fixed and rotary winged air transport support. This lack of air transport capacity appears to have led the MoD to outsource parachute training to the private sector, with a contract opportunity of up to eight years running from Q1 2025 having been recently published;
  • 3 Commando Brigade, historically the lead UK northern flank land formation, is no longer able to deploy at brigade strength. The Army has made some advances in this area but more can still be done to ensure an adequate capacity to operate in this increasingly important region. The MoD’s 2022 Arctic defence strategy document, The UK’s Defence Contribution in the High North, outlines current departmental efforts but is short on quantifiable specifics.
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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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geoff.Roach
geoff.Roach (@guest_789144)
4 months ago

Nothing new then. 😡

monkey spanker
monkey spanker (@guest_789170)
4 months ago
Reply to  geoff.Roach

Who would have thought getting rid of equipment and manpower would create shortages!

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_789359)
4 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Politicians didn’t. 🙄

Paul
Paul (@guest_789147)
4 months ago

Tell me something we didn’t already know. Consecutive government have put us all at risk

Nathan
Nathan (@guest_789681)
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Yes, I don’t think Labour would have done much better (they do like to spend others’ cash so possibly fractionally better temporarily), but I have to agree with you – the Tories (these are not conservatives) have abandoned their first responsibility.

Moreover, we are at 45% of GDP spent on funding the state and we can’t maintain our armed services – shocking. Note, figures much above 40% or below 30% tend to imply fiscal drag or insufficient public investment and result in declining economic performance.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_789828)
4 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

This is the culture of the land today, you can’t expect citizens to put 2-3% GDP in defence if most of them don’t care about it.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_789149)
4 months ago

My head is my hands, I could weep at the decimation of the Army I served for 24 years.

Paul
Paul (@guest_789158)
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian M

Thank you for yout service Ian.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_789189)
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Thanks, good times.

John Stevens
John Stevens (@guest_789161)
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian M

It is all rather frustrating!

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_789190)
4 months ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Surprisingly, at my age, I still have a goodly amount of (grey) hair to pull out!😡

John Stevens
John Stevens (@guest_789243)
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian M

😁 I have not reached the going grey hair stage yet. Probably will start to go grey soon though, if we have any more articles like this one. 😞

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_789163)
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian M

What I find most concerning from a political viewpoint is that most of the people ignoring the implications of these cuts or failures to even respond sufficiently will have the option to get out to the Americas should a threat of actual invasion becomes real. Indeed for our glorious PM it would likely be a big bonus to his career or simply bring the opportunity forward.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_789192)
4 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Ah! The old “VIP”, remote government card.

Andrew Blackburn
Andrew Blackburn (@guest_789366)
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian M

Those who hold the purse strings have not got a clue..and they think they are doing a grand job.

klonkie
klonkie (@guest_792085)
4 months ago
Reply to  Ian M

That’s an excellent innings Ian, thank you for your service.

Ian M
Ian M (@guest_792246)
4 months ago
Reply to  klonkie

👍

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky (@guest_789160)
4 months ago

We know the truth of this but to have it listed so starkly sends a chill down my spine and to think after the warnings from at the very least 2014 and yet little sign of any lack of urgency to rectify it since is beyond competence even as in that time the Govt offered British forces in support of no end of scenarios not unlike Hitler inventing military forces from his bunker as Generals looked on incredulously but unable or willing to express actual strategic realities. The loss of personnel is the most worrying however as we get softer… Read more »

Cymbeline
Cymbeline (@guest_789166)
4 months ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Yep, shambles doesn’t even begin to describe the situation. Those listed above are probably only some of the issues. Take in accommodation, increased time spent away from families due to shortage of troops but increasing commitments etc, etc.

monkey spanker
monkey spanker (@guest_789165)
4 months ago

Problem as usual is Money. The budget is allocated out and due to stupid decisions in previous years to save a few quid is costing millions extra in future Years. This not only costs more but creates gaps

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_789830)
4 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

It is not. The problem is culture.

BobA
BobA (@guest_789177)
4 months ago

Carter has got some balls to say that after being the architect of Army 2020! We knew it wasn’t going to work, we said it wasn’t going to work and were told to wind our necks in, because Defence was lucky not to be in for more of a cut.

Simon
Simon (@guest_789185)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

So Gen Carter who is the architect of Army 2020 now turns rounds and say it isn’t going to work !!

Last edited 4 months ago by Simon
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789200)
4 months ago
Reply to  Simon

Just like Lord West complaining about lack of escorts when in fact when he was at the helm under Labour the escort fleet was collapsing from 35 to 23.
Nothing to see here…

Simon
Simon (@guest_789373)
4 months ago

Yep he is another classic” forget what happed on my watch”

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789199)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

This!!!! BRAVO!!! He has a nerve. It was his “Army 2020 Refine” in 2015 that prioritised Boxer over all else, while cutting CS and CSS formations.

Boxer was meant to be MIV from 2027 only once CH3, Ajax and WCSP were sorted. Instead, it was brought forward while the other 3 were underway.
Something had to go to pay and it was WCSP.

BobA
BobA (@guest_789215)
4 months ago

I’m still mostly upset with him for stopping us wearing white shirts (his own regiment) lol

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789217)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

At least you’ve got your priorities right, Bob! 😃

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_789246)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

Not heard that story. What are the details?

BobA
BobA (@guest_789257)
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

In essence, when Carter was CGS, he wanted to create literal uniformity across the Army. In his words “The Americans think we’re a joke.” Now clearly, something very close to the heart of Riflemen is the wearing of white shirts and whistle cords with combats in barracks. Carter was also Col Commandant and so the regimental HQ released something along the lines of “CGS can’t be seen to be making the Army conform when his own regiment is one of the worst offenders – so the wearing of white shirts is to cease immediately” I know it’s really minor, but… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789339)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

I thought that the regimental system, with its differences, was one of the things that set the British Army apart and as you say, built identity and espirit de corps into it.
Why change it??! What is the advantage?

Dern
Dern (@guest_789913)
4 months ago

Well it would save money to have one Infantry Uniform instead of having to have like… six. Plus it would make career management easier, especially since with the modern Divisions of the Infantry the Regimental system isn’t exactly as insular as it once was. Essentially only the Paras, Rifles and Guards (not individually but collectively) are a regiment in the old sense.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_789368)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

Carter seems to have upset just about everyone!
I remember when REME introduced a stable belt with 2 side-fastening leather straps to replace the one with central buckle. Very unpopular, esecially as we used the buckle as a bottle opener!

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_790084)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

The Americans don’t think our army is a joke because there are some regimental eccentricities on display. It is far more likely that they have a poor opinion for the reasons stated in this article, low numbers of men and platforms and much aged and unmodernised kit.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_789245)
4 months ago

I see it differently Daniele, given that WCSP was a much cheaper programme than Boxer. [Greater savings would have accrued if Boxer had been scrapped rather than WCSP]. Carter created the demand for Boxer with his two Strike brigades which were the home for mech inf. Once they were sacked off there was no place for the Boxers to go – how embarrassing! Hence they go to the two armoured brigades to alleviate this embarrassment. Now the Inf ‘don’t need’ WCSP! All of which conveniently forgets of course that AI and Mech Inf are totally different – different roles, different… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789266)
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I don’t think we see it differently mate. Maybe you didn’t get my meaning? I support WCSP over Boxer. Boxer should not yet exist, and the army should have stuck to to 2010 “Army 2020” plan of 1 Armoured Division of 3 Armoured Infantry Bdes, with its supports in place, PLUS 2 other infantry Bdes in 1 UK that in theory were deployable as the CS CSS formations existed for them. So the old rule of 5, and ability to roule. That we had, and it’s assets were being recapitalised, until bloody Carter and his Strike Bdes arrived. Which incidentally… Read more »

monkey spanker
monkey spanker (@guest_789295)
4 months ago

He really did ruin it. The shirts thing is important even tho it is just a shirt. It gives a unit an identity and some people aspire to be in that group no matter how silly that seems to some. I don’t get how we can all see what’s needed but the folks in charge can’t. Heavy bunch need tanks, IFVs, Ajax mobile artillery, air defence and it all has to be able to cover the same terrain and same speeds. It also needs all the support, supply to go with it. Having 3 of allows rotation. The lighter units… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_789505)
4 months ago

Thanks Daniele, I was trying to give my take on why WCSP was cancelled, not that the money tree had bare branches and could not afford all army AFV projects, but that a ‘home’ had to be found for Boxer to end political embarrassment once the Strike brigades (original ‘home’) had been cancelled. I agree with all your points. I wait to see what the army staff conclude from their study into ‘a the lethality of Boxer’ – they have been at it since last March or April! Maybe the Tr2 Inf section carriers will come with Kongsberg RS6 PROTECTOR… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_789517)
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

The German companies that comprise ARTEC also make the Puma IFV. We should negotiate a change in the Boxer contract and exchange some Boxers for Pumas.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_789520)
4 months ago
Reply to  Paul.P

There’s a thought. How many bns in the ABCTs should be IFV in Puma and how many in Boxer?
Perhaps one bn per bde to be Puma IFV.

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_789521)
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

I’ll leave the details on costs and numbers for the professionals to work out. It just occurred to me that it was an idea worth exploring since my understanding is that Boxer is funded. So far as can see the Puma is a decent IFV.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789831)
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

How about halving the Boxer order and ordering something like the Patrica for other roles rather than using one of the most expensive options for everything?
Even with Warrior they did not completely replace the 432s and so 432s and Spartans continued in other roles while Warrior did the IFV bit.
Would save a shed load of money to go towards your IFVs.
Previously the AI Bdes had 2x Warrior Bn and 1 x Masiff Bn as Heavy Protected Mobility.
So 2 of IFV, 1 Boxer or 2 Boxer, 1 IFV, whichever.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_790238)
4 months ago

Would that be Patria, rather than Patrica? The Finnish 8×8? Hmm, not sure. Its a bit odd having 2 different makes of huge wheeled armoured vehicles in the ABCT Orbat. ARTEC would no doubt bill the MoD cancellation charges, which might be swingeing – that may offset any savings that could be made by buying a vehicle which is probably cheaper than Boxer. Out of interest Patria 8×8 has exported well and can take heavy ordnance (from 30mm cannon to 105mm guns to twin 120 mortars etc). You touch on a subject of huge annoyance to me – not buying… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_790240)
4 months ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

A poster on the F35 138 article was asking about tanks on SPTA. Mid way down thread. I replied best I could but told him you were the man to comment.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_790643)
4 months ago

I have answered but range-work by tanks was not something I got involved in.

Nathan Paxton
Nathan Paxton (@guest_789320)
4 months ago
Reply to  BobA

Absolutely.

It isn’t just lack of funding. Add together the money spent on FRES, Warrior CSP and Ajax and you could buy a lot of kit. Plus the prioritising of keeping light infantry cap badges over armour, long range fires or air defence. There is a succession of CGS and CDS (most of whom have been Army in recent years) who have their share of blame in bringing things to this state.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789832)
4 months ago
Reply to  Nathan Paxton

Absolutely right. The army themselves take a large slice of blame for this. The funding has been there but they piss it up the wall and keep changing priorities.

Steve
Steve (@guest_789183)
4 months ago

We are in a Conservative election year, which means tax cuts now at expense of public services cuts after the election. In other words things aren’t going to be getting any better in respect of the gaps.

Last edited 4 months ago by Steve
Peter G
Peter G (@guest_789184)
4 months ago

This reduction in manpower and shortage of equipment has been snowballing since the late 80’s/ early 90’s. Successive governments have preferred to spend more on the welfare bill whilst taking funds from defence budgets. Constant reductions in the manpower, failure to provide spares packages with new equipment, poorly managed procurement processes amongst other things have hit is to this stage. I served for 23 years Royal Armoured corps and then spent another 22 years in the UK defence industry and have witnessed so much waste of time and money.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789202)
4 months ago

“Inadequate domestic air and missile defence capabilities. The British Army holds responsibility for the majority of UK ground-based surface-to-air missile unit but only one medium-range and one short-range SAM regular regiments, plus one short-range Army Reserve regiment, are in existence.” This actually predates the Tories. It has been known about for years. And when General Carter had his A2020 Refine it was ignored in favour of going all in on Boxer. How about ignoring Boxer, keeping it to its original date of 2027 ( As MIV ) and spending those billions on getting the heavy stuff sorted ( Warrior, Ajax,… Read more »

monkey spanker
monkey spanker (@guest_789301)
4 months ago

But but my strike brigade legacy. How else will troops wizz around a country taking out machine gun wielding bad guys.
I hope they have big roads as boxer is freaking massive. Have you seen a picture of it next to a tank? It’s bigger than everything.
Google boxer and a tank and look at images.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789312)
4 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

I’ve been told Carter wished to copy other European nations with a heavy, medium, light mix. Sadly, they cut the heavy to get the medium ( wheels, Boxer )
He wanted to race to Tallin on wheeled Bdes.
But it gets worse. At the same time much of this Strike business was to be based in Catterick, even further from the channel tunnel where they’d need to go, while the army dismantled what little railway capability it had left…And some of the previous HETs.
Logical?
It’s almost as if they’re batting for the other side.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789334)
4 months ago

Previous….Precious.

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_789834)
4 months ago

If he wanted to copy Italians and French then he need to have Boxer “Centauro” of sorts. But that was never in the picture.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_789837)
4 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Agreed. Dern suggested that vehicle to me months ago in a detailed discussion we were having on the subject. Looks the part doesn’t it.
As opposed to using tracked Ajax as per their Strike Bde plan.

Dern
Dern (@guest_789915)
4 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

Haven’t seen pictures of one next to a tank, but I’ve been in one.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_790600)
4 months ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

I remember when UK was first involved in Boxer (1996-Jul 2003). Someone had drawn a mural of the sideways view of Boxer at exact 1:1 scale on a wall at Abbeywood. Most passers-by were convinced that the mural was larger than real life. Lots of head-scratching as to how this thing was going to fit in a Herc!

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_789203)
4 months ago

Well this government arnt going to do anything about it or any other party the UK have at the moment 😕 🇬🇧

Pete
Pete (@guest_789410)
4 months ago

We have the finest men and women in our armed forces who are expected to serve the nation proud, so you pen pushers in whitehall give them the resources to make it happen. Sort of the sham procurement system and make the funds available to support our armed forces to allow them to do their job. Sick of hearing we spend fhe 3rd highest in Nato on Defence, but equally we have one of the worst track records for spending it. Cutting corners in our Navy, having billion dollar destroyers with no offensive capability, 3 billion dollar aircraft carriers and… Read more »

liam
liam (@guest_789441)
4 months ago

Now I admit that I don’t have any inside knowledge regarding any of the projects past or present other than what is in the public domain but I have always thought that one of the british military biggest problems was the inability to use off the self solutions and rather start large and expensive development programs which inevitably overrun and become far more expensive than expected leading to less systems within a project being purchased. Just for example take the Bowman and Morpheus debacle. With the morpheus project now being cancelled as of Dec 23 I would hate to see… Read more »

Ian Skinner
Ian Skinner (@guest_789558)
4 months ago

The Tories have run the Army into the ground, is there any indication that Labour will do any better? Sadly, I am not hopeful.

Tom
Tom (@guest_789620)
4 months ago

Wow man… No one ever mentioned this before! The British Army has been run down for years, and now lacks the ability to go to war for any sustained period?

Surely you jest… a governments primary role is to protect the country and its citizens, and we haven’t been able to do that for years?

Wow surely that cannot be true?

AlexS
AlexS (@guest_789861)
4 months ago
Reply to  Tom

a governments primary role is to protect the country and its citizens

Sir Humphrey with sarcasm tone in voice…

The primary function of a democratic government is to buy people votes.

Adrian
Adrian (@guest_790583)
4 months ago

The big problem across the services is that everyone want modern equipment but less in numbers, take challenger tanks, 140 challenger 3 or 300 challenger 2, which wins in a battle? If we can’t afford to upgrade sufficient numbers have a mixed fleet.

It’s the same with missiles and artillery, lobbing 1980s munitions makes more of an impact than sending fresh air.

There really appears a preference for a capability gap rather than using old equipment.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_790690)
4 months ago
Reply to  Adrian

I bet the army doesn’t want a mere 148 CR3 tanks to replace the 386 CR2s that were previously purchased. Procurement quantity is forced by the Orbat (only 2 armoured regiments) and the budget, both shaped by politicians.

Fair point about considering making do with a mixed fleet – we ran a CH/CR1 mixed fleet from about 1983 to 1998.