General Sir Mike Jackson, who was Chief of the General Staff from 2003 to 2006, has said that the British Army is now too small to fight a conventional war. He said that one of the major issues was due to logistics and that the Army’s armoured corps was a ‘shadow’ of what it was a few decades ago.
He said the 80,000-strong Army would now struggle to fight a battle in the way it did in the past.
General Sir Mike Jackson, who was Chief of the General Staff from 2003 to 2006, said the Army’s armoured corps was a ‘shadow’ of what it was a few decades ago
The Ministry of Defence is under pressure to deliver military capability for less money and also to modernise the force to meet diverse threats – but it has dismissed claims that Army numbers could be cut.
Speaking to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity for its podcast General Talk, Sir Mike said: ‘When I joined, the Cold War was very cold. The whole strategic posture was deterrence of the then Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. It needed mass. We had a comparatively large army for peace time.’
But he said it has shrunk since. ‘It worries me that 80,000 may not be big enough,’ he added.
Sir Mike said: ‘We are down to the position where really if we get it right we can field a single division. Perhaps of two or three brigades. That is [the] maximum effort we could expect of today’s Army.’
When Sir Mike joined the Paras in 1970 the Army’s regular strength was 176,000, with 80,000 reservists.
He added: ‘The Royal Armoured Corps is pretty much a shadow of what it was when I joined.’
The MoD’s review could see soldiers moved into other areas, for example cyber, to match the threat and skills needed as the world changes, sources said.
A report by the Royal United Services Institute think-tank last year warned that British troops would be ‘comprehensively outgunned’ in a war with Russia due to a ‘critical shortage’ of artillery.
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