News

Shadow Defence Secretary On Troop Cuts: Drones 'Don't Give COVID Jabs'

John Healey made the remarks as he criticised the Government over its planned reduction in the number of Army personnel.

Ministers have been warned against cutting the number of British soldiers, the Shadow Defence Secretary warning that drones and robots "don't mend broken societies" or deliver coronavirus vaccinations.

John Healey made the remarks as he criticised the Government over its planned reduction in the number of Army personnel.

It was announced in the Integrated Review last month that the size of the Army will be reduced by 10,000 to 72,500 soldiers by 2025.

Speaking in the Commons on Wednesday during an Opposition Day debate on the strength of the military, Mr Healey told MPs there is a "strong case" against reductions due to growing threats to the UK.

"This will be the smallest British Army for 300 years and ministers can only promise no redundancies because all three forces are already well below the strength that the Government set out should be required in 2015 in the Defence Review," he said.

Boris Johnson has already announced no job losses will come from reduction, natural staff turnover set to be the only cause of cuts.

John Healey MP 240919 CREDIT EMPICS, PA
Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey has criticised plans to cut Army personnel numbers (Picture: PA).

While acknowledging the importance of emerging defence "technologies and domains," Mr Healey added: "You can destroy enemy forces with technology but you can't seize and hold ground without troops.

"Drones and robots don't win hearts and minds, they don't mend broken societies, they don't give COVID jabs."

SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald also called on the Government to cancel the cut in troop numbers.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey insisted UK defence must keep adapting to threats, adding that "if we fail to change, we will be defeated".

"We should all be clear that technology is moving on quickly and industrial capabilities will no longer get the job done alone," he added.

"We have a duty to the brave men and women of our Armed Forces not to indulge in a game of military bingo, obsessed with the metrics of previous conflicts – instead we must keep adapting to the threat, because the reality is that if we fail to change, we will be defeated."