The British Army’s Struggle with Budget: Are They Quitting NATO?

The has been grappling with budgetary constraints since 2010, even though its military spending has surpassed the 2% of GDP demanded by . A significant factor contributing to these challenges are delayed and over-budget armament programs like the “Ajax” armored vehicle.

2021 Security and Defense Strategic Review

The Security and review of 2021 anticipates further cuts to personnel in the British Army. The forces are expected to shrink from 82,000 to approximately 73,000 soldiers. However, the reduction is intended to be offset by an upturn in “reactivity” and “robotization”.

Future Predictions

There are predictions that by 2026, due to a deficit in recruitment and retention issues, the British Army might contain fewer than 70,000 soldiers. Despite the limitations, the current capabilities of the British Army enable it to mobilize 16,000 soldiers for interventions such as NATO's Steadfast Defender exercise and leading a multinational battalion in Estonia. The long-term viability of these abilities, however, is questionable.

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General Sir Patrick Sanders’ Concerns

Reservations over the Army's future have been voiced by General Sir Patrick Sanders, the head of the British Army. He penned a letter to former generals expressing alarm at the ongoing underfunding of the British Army and the disconnect between resources and ambitions. He warned that if this situation persists, the Army might fail to meet NATO commitments or conduct overseas operations and could devolve into a smaller, insular, and home-focused force.

Colonel Richard Kemp’s Views

Colonel Richard Kemp, a recipient of the letter and a veteran of wars in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and Iraq, shares a similar viewpoint. He is worried that the Army's capability for overseas operations is under threat due to budget cuts. He finds it deeply disturbing that at a time when threats from China, , and Iran are escalating, the are being depleted of the resources required to effectively combat and support allies abroad.

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