The difference between a tier one and a tier two army explained

Watch: What is the difference between a Tier One and Tier Two Army?

A retired commander has told Forces News the British Army would "struggle" to qualify as a Tier Two fighting force and "needs at least five, and probably 10, years to get fit for purpose".

It comes after reports claimed a senior US General had told the UK Defence Secretary the British Army was no longer considered among the world's top fighting forces.

But how do you know what tier a fighting force is and what impact does it have?

General (Retired) Sir Richard Barrons, Former Commander, Joint Forces Command, told Forces News a Tier One force is "a force that is ready to fight tonight, now".

"It's the thing that when you're having a confrontation with Russia that’s looking much more difficult and may lapse into actual fighting, but that force, at short notice, is there, ready to go," he said.

"With people who are trained and in enough quantity, with ammunition and stocks and spares and medical support so that they are a ready military force, ready to fight."

Watch: Britain needs to wake up to the return of state-on-state aggression, says Ellwood.

In comparison, Gen Sir Richard said a Tier Two force is one that will take months or "years" in the case of the UK currently, to get ready to fight.

"The UK, to be useful in Nato, has to be a Tier One force or we won't play a useful part and Nato will increasingly ignore us anyway."

He believes that the "British Army will struggle to qualify as tier two today" based on the actual readiness of the Army, "the number of people who have received training at battlegroup and brigade level" and also the "readiness of our equipment". 

"It needs at least five, probably 10 years to get fit for purpose again,"he added.

Recently, Tobias Ellwood, Chair of the Defence Select Committee, told Sky News we should be "very concerned" about the state of the British Army, adding: "The Army is in a dire state."

Gen Sir Richard said the Government needs to reverse the policy set out in the Integrated Review which would see the Army shrink in size and not receive funding for new equipment until the end of the decade.

Watch: Ajax: A Timeline of the British Army's troubled project.

He added the Government also needs to "give the Army the money to move faster, to get ready for the job it's going to be asked to do as part of the new Nato force model".

"That sum of money is about £3bn a year extra for the Army, starting now."

He also called on the UK to "recognise the habit that we've fallen into since the end of the Cold War in 1990 and that habit is called graduated readiness".

This sees a part of the Army, usually "a brigade or two", brought to readiness while the rest stays in a "cycle of training support or, frankly, crappy jobs", Gen Sir Richard explained.

In order to be fit for a general war, he added, the Army needs to adopt "general readiness where, if necessary, nearly all the Army can be made ready very quickly", and needs a "healthy reserve" force.

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