Former Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Simon Mayall told GB News the Government should be embarrassed over its current defence capabilities.
Mayall reacted to a story in the Mail on Sunday this morning which claimed Nato chiefs fear Britain's military forces are so overstretched that they are not fit to be on the front line of the defence against Russia.
The UK is due to take over leadership of Nato's rapid-reaction force from Germany at the end of the year.
But according to the Mail on Sunday, backed up by Ministry of Defence sources in the UK, Nato has asked Germany to stay in charge.
Former Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Simon Mayall said the Government should be embarrassed GB News
In an exclusive interview with GB News, Mayall told Camilla Tominey Today: “I think for those in the Army, those in defence, or those who care about the army, who care about defence, they will be very disappointed to read a headline like that.
“It's a cumulative effect of going back from the end of the fall of the Soviet Union and the Berlin Wall coming down, and how the successive governments are taking a peace dividend.
“They're not the only ones, the French have done it. Although they've spent money I think better than we have.
“The Germans have certainly done it, which is part of the problem we have in going around the world, demonstrating our intent and our expertise.
“British armed forces - the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines - are all full of highly capable men and women, there are some very good capabilities, but you know, quantity does have a quality of its own. And we've continually taken risks against this.
“And an organisation has breadth, but also has depth in terms of ammunition, stocks and spares, suppliers, etc. And those have all been taken at risk.
“And at the end of the day, any British government should be very embarrassed that there was a headline [like this].
“We look at ourselves as a lead member of Nato, and we're embarrassed that we appear to not be able to take up our position on a rotation from the Germans, who we were often very critical about in terms of their commitment to defence spending.
“Recently a source said that American friends, who we have always judged ourselves by, said that you're no longer a first tier army.
“I joined an army of 165,000 with around 1000 tanks.. And I'm not saying quantity is everything by any means, because technology moves on.”
Tobias Ellwood, said the UK was still operating on a peacetime budget GB News
Also speaking to GB News, Commons Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood, said the UK was still operating on a peacetime budget during a “new era of insecurity”.
He urged Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt to boost defence spending to cope with a new Cold War involving both China and Russia.
“Back in 1990, at the end of the Cold War, we had over 900 battle tanks, and we’ve cut that down now to about 148,' he said.
“Frigates and destroyers – we had over 50 of those protecting our sea lanes around the world. We embrace globalisation, so we need to continue to protect those.
“You can’t do that with just 18 frigates and destroyers.
“We had 36 squadrons of fast jets, we’re down to about seven today.
“Really we’re still on a peacetime budget, we’ve moved into a new era of insecurity."
Reacting on Sky News, Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell said the Chancellor had already made significant defence spending commitments in the autumn statement in November.