UK

Cutting Number Of Infantry Brigades Would Be 'Extremely Dangerous'

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood has voiced concern over any potential cuts to the number of British Army infantry brigades.

Cutting the number of British Army infantry brigades would be "extremely dangerous", an MP has warned.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Defence Select Committee, made the comments as the committee questioned military chiefs on whether they are planning to reduce the number of armoured infantry brigades from two to one.

In an evidence session, MPs had hoped to hear how the armoured vehicle upgrade was progressing, but comments from the Deputy Chief of the General Staff on how the upcoming Integrated Review might shape future land forces raised concerns.

Mr Ellwood said: "Reducing our land capabilities by an entire brigade – infantry brigade – I think, is extremely dangerous.

"I'm sorry to hear that it might have been considered in the Integrated Review."

Lieutenant General Christopher Tickell, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, said: "I don't think that is what I was saying, in fact I know that is not what I was saying in terms of the Integrated Review. 

"My point being - what lands in the Integrated Review will demonstrate a re-imagining of how we deliver land environment capability."

He added: "That doesn't for a minute suggest that we won't have the right mass on the ground."

Highlighting page 28 of the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review for 2019, Mr Ellwood said it is "very, very clear" that the intention set out by the document was "to have two armoured infantry brigades".

Asked whether there was an intention to continue with this, Lt Gen Tickell said: "There were opportunities in terms of structure, but I think that we would suggest that square brigades - i.e. where you're balancing both armour and infantry fighting vehicles - offers a much greater punch."

Tobias Ellwood speaking at Veterans' Mental Health Conference at King's College in London 140319 CREDIT PA
Mr Ellwood is a former Army officer (Picture: PA).

What is the Integrated Review?

The Integrated Review, known by its full title of Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review, was first announced by Boris Johnson in December 2019.

It aims to cover "all aspects of international policy from defence to diplomacy and development".

Downing Street has previously said it will go beyond the parameters of a traditional strategic defence and security review (SDSR) by looking at the "totality of opportunities and challenges" the UK faces.

British military chiefs will use the review to reshape the Armed Forces, with decisions made according to threats facing the country, with it also looking at developing defence capabilities and procurement.

The Integrated Review will also examine foreign and security policy, threats of the next decade, relationships with allies and changing strategy on the international stage.