The UK’s ability to wage all-out war would be blighted by the capacity of its armed forces, stock shortages and a recruitment crisis, MPs were told.
The House of Commons defense committee heard that the “elimination” of the armed forces since 2010 had undermined the UK’s resilience to war, and that the army would exhaust its capabilities “after the first two months » in a war between peers.
Jeremy Quin, chairman of the committee, said continued operations and engagements meant the army was “unable to devote sufficient training and resources to high-intensity combat”.
“Even though we are capable of deploying at short notice and fulfilling our commitments, our investigation revealed that preparation for all-out and protracted war has not received sufficient attention and requires continued and intense attention” , did he declare.
“The high pace of operations and relentless pressure on our services has led to a decline in retention rates, compounded by a period of low recruitment and difficulty in introducing and maintaining capacity, creating a vicious cycle. »
The panel suggested that “relentless pressure” on personnel had exacerbated the recruitment crisis, with more people leaving the armed forces than joining them.
The committee report also says the military must be “strategic about the resources we have, including how to maintain and replenish stocks,” and ensure equipment is not wasted.
The Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) efforts to address the problem have not been “conducted at the required pace”, the report said, adding that preparedness “is essential to effectively deter our adversaries” at a time of geopolitical instability increased.
Last month, Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the world was “moving from a post-war world to a pre-war world” and that the UK must ensure that ” its entire defense ecosystem was ready” to defend its homeland.
He insisted the size of the army would not fall below 73,000 under Conservative rule, amid growing concerns over further troop cuts.
Around 20,000 British troops will take part in NATO’s largest exercise since the end of the Cold War this year, testing the alliance’s ability to rapidly deploy forces.
However, the departure of the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to lead the exercise was canceled at the last minute after a problem with a propeller shaft was spotted during final checks.
The setback comes 18 months after its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, broke down off the Isle of Wight after sailing to the United States after suffering a malfunction.
This ship will now be ready to replace the fleet’s £3 billion flagship during major NATO exercises, which will involve more than 40 ships.
The Ministry of Defense has been contacted for comment.