Politics

Ex-Defence Chief: 'Not Enough Money To Preserve Force Structure' After Review

The warning comes after publication of both the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper, which outline changes to the UK's military.

The UK's defence review stops short of promising enough investment to sustain the UK's force structure, according to a former defence chief.

The warning from General Lord Richards comes following the publication of the Integrated Review and the Defence Command Paper, which set out a number of goals for the Armed Forces.

General Lord Richards said Prime Minister Boris Johnson should be "congratulated" for providing additional funding to the Armed Forces, saying that, without it, the UK "really would be in a pickle".

But the UK is investing only "to a minimum degree" in capabilities such as AI, drones, and in the battlegrounds of space and cyber, he said.

"At the end of the day, having done that necessary minimum expenditure – and it's the right direction of travel – there's not enough money to preserve our force structure."

Ministers promise a modernised "information age" force for the future, but at a cost.

Older technology will retire early – long before new technology arrives, a billion-pound upgrade to Warrior armoured vehicles will be abandoned, and older ships may have to leave the Royal Navy before new ones arrive.

Additionally, the Army will shrink its target size by 9,500 soldiers, with the Government describing the changes as making the service "more agile".

Watch: What changes have been outlined for the Armed Forces?

"I've heard them... say that we're going to be more ready and more engaged," General Lord Richards said.

"This is just re-writing history – it's not the case at all.

"The British Army and the Armed Forces don't need lectures on being nimble, we've always been nimble, it's a state of mind."

The review also made it clear that the UK Armed Forces will be more spread out across the world, with an 'Indo-Pacific tilt' at the heart of the restructure.

General Lord Richards said this will still allow the military to "play a respectable part in state-on-state war" alongside allies, but "those wars will continue to be fought... in conventional ways".

"In that respect, there's no doubt that, particularly in the case of the Army, we'll be less capable," he said.

General Lord Houghton, another former defence chief, said: "We appear to be reducing down to a sort of a one-shot, quite long notice, not long sustainment set of Armed Forces."

He added: "[It] looks like the result of this review, in terms of the numbers that have been reduced, in terms of straightforward platforms and boots on [the] ground, that we are less able to deploy to conflicts at scale."