British Army is ‘too small’ and spending must increase

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The British Army is “too small” and an increase in defence spending is needed as Russia threatens the UK “every day”, a Labour MP tells Dan Jarvis, also a former British Army officer, has urged the Government to change its Integrated Review of the country’s defence capabilities to bolster the armed forces.

He said: “MPs on all sides of the house feel we are not investing enough resources in our defence capability. Take the size of the army, it is smaller than it has been for hundreds of years.

“The terminology the Government uses is that it is ‘refreshing’ the Integrated Review, I’m not convinced that important piece of work is on the right trajectory to make sure we reverse the reductions that have taken place.

“The army is too small and we need to invest in our land capability to make sure the forces are appropriately sized.

“In France and Germany, there has been an increase in defence spending because they recognised that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant they had to think again.

“If we want to continue to be a leading player within NATO, we need to look very carefully at defence expenditure.”

Currently, there are roughly 77,190 soldiers serving in the military, and planned cuts by the Government could see this number fall further to 72,500 by 2025.

This would make the British army the smallest it has been since the 1700s.

But Mr Jarvis fears that, with the war in Ukraine ongoing, the UK needs to ensure that allies of Britain know the country is serious about defence.

He continued: “I completely understand that there is huge fiscal pressure, the Government doesn’t have money to throw around. But I think it’s right to make sure the armed forces are fit for purpose.

“Particularly with the army, there is a real concern that it is too small. If the army was to get any smaller that would send a worrying message to our allies around the world.

“My own view as a Labour MP is that it is too small.”

Last month, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also urged Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to boost funding for the military.

In a meeting alongside the head of the armed forces, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the Defence Secretary secured a financial stop-gap that would replenish weapon stockpiles depleted by the UK’s support for Ukraine while also guaranteeing at least another £2.3billlion in support for Kyiv.

In a speech after the meeting, Mr Radakin warned that “conversations will get tougher” surrounding defence spending but added that “we’re having the right conversations.”

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The UK recently announced that it will send 14 Challenger tanks to Ukraine to help them fight the Russian forces.

Mr Jarvis says this is the right thing to do, but there are concerns both in terms of the UK military being further depleted and how Russia could respond.

He continued: “It’s a huge concern, but the bottom line is we don’t have a choice other than to do everything we can to support Ukraine.

“It’s in all of our interests that Ukraine prevails. Of course, that brings an enhanced risk of direct or indirect action from Russia.

“I have no doubt that every day we are as a country under some threat from Russia. This is activity that has been taking place for years now.”

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