Britain’s chances of success in future wars could be “seriously damaged” by any more spending cuts, the Head of the Army has exclusively told Sky News.
General Sir Peter Wall said further savings likely to be ordered by the Government as part of its latest spending review could prove “quite dangerous, quite quickly”.
On adding fresh savings to those demanded in the previous round of cuts, he told Sky’s Jeff Randall: “Imposing more on us now before last round of efficiencies have really materialised properly in a balanced way would be very disruptive.
“We have got to the point in certain areas where we can’t go any further without seriously damaging our professional competence and our chances of success on the battlefields of the future.”
Under current plans the number of Army personnel will have fallen to 82,000 by 2020, from 102,000 three years ago.
The most recent tranche of redundancies will see 4,500 soldiers leaving.
With the days of mass deployments to Afghanistan coming to an end by December next year, the Army and defence establishment as a whole are focusing on the shape of our military forces in the coming decade and beyond.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, a businessman by trade, was brought in to cut waste, but even he says the withering financial bombardment from the Treasury will damage Britain’s defence capability.
He said: “Simply trying to salami slice across all areas is likely to lead to the worst possible outcome.
“If we have to make further reductions, I would rather identify specific areas and capabilities that we will agree to gap for a period of time and accept and manage the risks that are involved.”
The UK’s top soldier in Afghanistan, General Nick Carter, said the Treasury rather than the military will be to blame if Britain’s defence is weakened as part of its latest spending review, the results of which will be revealed the week after next.
He said: “At the end of the day our politicians need to decide what they want the Army to do.
“If they determine that the Army is going to do less, it’s reasonable for them to reduce it still further.”
He added: “We are bound as military people to point out the risks during the course of this to our political masters and ultimately it’s down to them to look themselves in the mirror each morning and determine whether or not those risks are manageable.”
Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1103350