Planned Army cuts would leave UK unable to recapture Falklands, general claims
Ministry of Defence unveiling series of major changes to the Armed Forces
The UK would “almost certainly” be unable to recapture the Falklands if swingeing planned cuts to troop numbers go ahead, a former chief of the defence staff has warned.
Retired general and crossbench peer Lord Richards insisted that “mass still matters”, as the government prepares to publish its Defence Command Paper later today outlining major changes to the country’s Armed Forces.
Under the plans, the size of the regular Army is expected to be reduced from the current target of 82,000 to 72,000 troops, which would be “its smallest in 200 years”, reports The Times.
In an interview on Times Radio, Richards said that while “we need to get more into hi-tech, cyber, drone technology and so on”, that shift must not be “at the expense of conventional capabilities and key to that is numbers”.
The planned cuts mean “we would not be able to recapture the Falklands, almost certainly,” he continued, “but the strategy in respect to the Falklands is to continue to occupy it and not allow them to be captured. Now, if that goes wrong, we have got a problem.”
Slashing the forces would prove “an asymmetric attraction to one’s opponents”, Richards added, with the UK also unable to fight another Gulf War or Iraq War.
Such fears have been downplayed by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is outlining the plans to MPs in the Commons today.
Wallace yesterday told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that the UK will “have an Armed Forces that is the right size to meet the threat and the right size to meet the government’s ambition of having a global Britain that uphold values and support its allies”.
There will also be “extra money to fight in the new domains of space and cyber, and for robots and drones”, according to Jonathan Beale, defence correspondent for the BBC.
And The Guardian suggests that the Royal Marines will receive an extra £200m and that the special forces will increase in size.