Military is becoming a 'hollow force', warns UK defence chief

Sir Nick Houghton

Armed Forces on course to have ‘exquisite technology' but insufficient resources to man it

LAST UPDATED AT 09:32 ON Thu 19 Dec 2013

BRITAIN'S military will become a "hollow force" unless manpower budgets increase, the chief of the defence staff has warned.

General Sir Nicholas Houghton (above, left, with Defence Secretary Philip Hammond) has said that the defence budget must grow in the next parliament if the Armed Forces are to fund their current plans.

Coalition cuts saw the defence budget drop by eight per cent over the past three years and the overall spend on the military drop by about £10bn.

Despite years of spending on high-end technology, all three branches of the Armed Forces will shrink by 2020. The Army is losing 20,000 soldiers, while the Navy is losing 6,000 servicemen and the RAF is losing 8,000.

"Unattended our current course leads to a strategically incoherent force structure: exquisite equipment, but insufficient resources to man that equipment or train on it," he said.

In an annual Christmas speech to the Royal United Services Institute, Houghton said the Royal Navy was already "perilously close to its critical mass" after cuts to the number of sailors.

He added that the current £34bn defence budget had been increasingly spent on "large capital equipment programmes often with an eye on supporting the United Kingdom's defence industrial base" and warned that the budget must not be "disproportionately used to support British defence industry".

The government is currently spending billions to develop some of the most advanced aircraft and warships in the world, says the Daily Telegraph. The Navy's two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers are scheduled to cost £6.2bn after years of cost overruns, while the new Astute class hunter killer submarines have cost more than £1bn each. Any replacement for the Trident nuclear missile submarines is estimated to cost another £20bn.

BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said this first annual talk by the new chief of the defence staff contained rather "blunter warnings" than many had anticipated. · 

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That maybe be good because next time America start a war & want us to join in we can easily refuse

I agree, but why should anyone expect a military General to say otherwise. The military top brass always plead poverty or something else. It is good/encouraging/comforting to know that at long last Colonial Britain will no longer be in a position to support war. The day of Gunboat diplomacy is GONE thank goodness.

Relocate the obscene trident to the thames and they might rethink the disgusting waste of £20billion on weapons of mass destruction

It is a pity that no-one ever asks how much of the estimated 20 billion for replacement of the Trident nuclear missile submarines is to be spent in the UK, and how much in the USA. If it provides jobs for our defence industry, the real cost is much less because of the income tax paid and money spent locally. If it goes abroad, all is cost.
Anyway as long as there no-one to fire the damn thing, we won't be killing anyone.

Then we can have a Ministry of Defence, rather than a Ministry of War.

Peter - For decades now we have never had a MOD but a MOO, internationally recognised as a Ministry of Offence.

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