Army recruits on parade at Army Training Centre Pirbright 28052020 CREDIT MOD Crown Copyright
Mr Sunak says that the Army's total force capacity of 100,000 will be split between regulars and reserves (Picture: MOD).

British Army will have a total force capacity of 100,000, Sunak says

Army recruits on parade at Army Training Centre Pirbright 28052020 CREDIT MOD Crown Copyright
Mr Sunak says that the Army's total force capacity of 100,000 will be split between regulars and reserves (Picture: MOD).

The British Army will have a total force capacity of 100,000, the Prime Minister has announced.

Asked at the London Defence Conference about plans to cut the size of the regular Army to around 73,000 soldiers, Rishi Sunak said: "The Army will have a total force capacity of 100,000, split between regulars and reserves.

"Now the Defence Secretary is currently in the process of reviewing that. There will be a defence command paper issued shortly which will talk through all that."

The Prime Minister made it clear that he will not "second guess" military commanders on the size of the British Army.

"Ultimately, my job is not to second guess the decision that our military chiefs are making. What I can say, what we've delivered as a Government, is record defence uplifts."

He added: "How that is best spent to deal with the threats that we face is a question that our military chiefs will make."

Mr Sunak also reiterated his commitment to increasing defence spending to 2.5% of GDP when economic and fiscal conditions allow, saying the UK was one of a "minuscule" number of countries that had consistently met the Nato standard of spending 2% of GDP on defence.

The Prime Minister's comments come after it was made known that the Labour Party were to call for further cuts to the number of regular troops in the British Army to stop, in light of increased security risks.

Labour's shadow defence secretary, John Healey used his speech at the London Defence Conference to argue that 13 years of Conservative Government have contributed to poor accommodation, falling morale and increasing numbers leaving the Armed Forces.

In the past decade, the Army has shrunk from 97,000 full-time, trained soldiers to 76,000, and the Future Soldier programme will see it reduced further to 73,000 regulars while increasing the size of the Army Reserve.

The Government last year defended plans to cut 10,000 personnel from the British Army – despite calls to rethink its plans to shake up the military following the war in Ukraine.

Watch: The description 'hollowed out' has become increasingly familiar in describing the state of Britain's Armed Forces.

UK a declining global power

The Prime Minister has denied that the UK is declining as a global power.

During a Q&A at the London Defence Conference, Mr Sunak said: "What have we achieved in the last six months? The Windsor Framework; new deal with the French and a summit, the likes of which we haven't seen for years; a new deal with Albania to strengthen our ability to deal with illegal migration.

"We've got CPTPP (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership), first European nation to accede, the GCAP programme for the next generation of fighter aircraft with Italy and Japan. We've got the Japanese defence deal that we've just signed."

He added: "We've got Aukus – incredible, unprecedented defence partnership with Australia and the US. We've got our leadership on China and probably most importantly on Ukraine, not just with hard support but also leading the conversation from an intellectual perspective about the right way to try and resolve this conflict and make sure that Ukraine is successful.

"That's what we've just done in six months. I don't know how you can look at any of that, as I said, operating in the Atlantic, in Europe, in the Pacific, delivering benefits for people at home, whether it’s tackling illegal migration, creating jobs, growing businesses.

"I don't know how you look at any of that and say Britain is not anything but confident, free and doing great stuff that's making an enormous difference in the world."

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