UK not capable of fighting in a major conflict, says former defence chief

UK not capable of fighting in a major conflict, says former defence chief
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 05/02/2024

- 08:51

Updated: 05/02/2024

- 10:12

A former head of the armed forces has warned that decades of underfunding means that the UK does not have the capability to fight in a major military conflict.

Lord Richard Dannatt told GB News: “We have underfunded our overall defence capability for very many years, really effectively since the end of the Cold War, when the Chancellor and the Prime Minister of the day chose to take a large peace dividend.

“And that has gone on, really, in every defence review successively to the point that our armed forces are not as capable as strong as they should be.

“That's not to give any criticism to the men and women in uniform, or indeed the military leadership, but frankly the consequence of underfunding means that we don't have the capability that we would require if we were to get dragged into a major conflict.”

In a discussion during Breakfast with Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster, he continued: “Now, of course, people would say, ‘well, the top generals and admirals and air marshals will always say they want more’ and we do always want more, because we want the best for our people.

“The best is usually at the cutting edge of technology, which means it's probably fairly risky and probably fairly expensive, but we want it not for our own vainglorious reasons, we actually want to make sure that this country is as well prepared as possible for major conflicts.

“You look around the world today, look around the situation in the Middle East, look around the situation in Ukraine and Europe.

“Of those two, the one that worries me most, continues to worry me most, is what's going on in Ukraine, because this directly affects the security of Europe, and it directly affects our own security.”

He added: “There is a very strong case to increase our defence spending, not just to the 2.5% or 3% that's being talked about, but to get back to the kind of levels that we were spending during the Cold War, which was 5% of GDP, if we want to take the security of this country seriously.”


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