“While we are capable of deploying at short notice and fulfilling commitments, our investigation found that preparation for all-out, protracted war has received insufficient attention and requires continued, intense attention. The high pace of operations and relentless pressure on our services has led to declining retention, compounded by a period of poor hiring and difficulties in introducing and maintaining capabilities, creating a vicious cycle.”
This was stated by the chairman of the Defense Committee of the British House of Commons, MP Jeremy Quin, following the publication of a report on the operational capabilities of the British armed forces entitled Ready for War? which photographs a worrying situation in many respects, especially taking into account the alarm raised by military and political leaders over the risk of conflict with Russia.
“In the event of a war between the UK and an adversary of similar size, the British armed forces would exhaust their capabilities after the first two months of combat,” said General Sir Nick Carter, former chief of the defense staff.
General Lord Nick Houghton, former chief of staff of the British Army and Defense Staff, told the committee that since 2010 there had been a “hollowing out” of the armed forces, leading to shortfalls in the country’s war resilience. The Ministry of Defense has admitted that gaps in their war preparedness include insufficient infrastructure and warehouses for ammunition, the same applies to ports and air bases, operational medical capacity and armored vehicle equipment support.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said that although the cuts to the armed forces were necessary at the time they were enacted, he recognized that “there is a lot of things we have disinvested in and urgently need to reinvest in ” and that the Ministry of Defense has “a lot of work to do to recover the readiness that we enjoyed during the Cold War, and that we need now”.
Assessments that sound like a confirmation of the criticisms publicly expressed by the secretary of the US Navy, Carlos Del Toro, for whom the United Kingdom should “reconsider” its current strategy “given the threats that exist today” since Great Britain should take a ” decision on whether or not to strengthen the armed forces”.
The huge supplies to Ukraine also contributed to weakening British military capabilities. The House of Commons report found replacements for the 6,000 NLAW anti-tank systems and 155mm artillery ammunition sent by Britain to Ukraine will likely not begin to be supplied on a large scale until later this year.
Furthermore, as Defense Analysis has highlighted on several occasions, the British armed forces have reached the historic minimum of personnel and are unable to reach the expected enlistments while the exodus of personnel in service towards other occupations increases with the result that two Type 23 frigates of the Royal Navy (HMS Westminster and HMS Argyll) will be laid up early due to lack of crews.
And speaking of the Royal Navy, yesterday it had to announce the postponement of the departure of the Prince of Wales aircraft carrier, which was supposed to set sail over the weekend to take part in the Steadfast Defender exercise on the northern and eastern NATO fronts in place of its sister ship Queen Elizabeth, which remained stranded in port due to sudden technical problem.
“The departure has been postponed,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense limited himself to declaring, without specifying whether the Prince of Wales had also revealed any problems. The Steadfast Defender exercises are the largest organized by the Atlantic Alliance close to the borders with Russia since the end of the Cold War.
In addition to providing an important contribution to these exercises by sending an aircraft carrier, London had announced that it was considering sending the second aircraft carrier to the Red Sea to replace the American Dwight D. Eisenhower in the reinforced patrolling of the Middle Eastern area after the recent escalation against the Houthis in Yemen.
This article is originally published on analisidifesa.it