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British military leaders have called on the army to 'really' prepare for war

The British Army must “really prepare for war”, former UK defense and security chiefs have warned.

The UK Army must “truly prepare for war” to reliably deter threats, a group of former British Defense and Security chiefs have said.

As reported by Sky News, offering advice to whoever becomes UK Prime Minister and Defense Secretary after the election, the New Bletchley Network report, which drew on insights from a discussion between a panel of experts, found that the “devastatement” of Britain’s regular army and reserves over many years years should be reversed, warning that the size of the armed forces may already be below the “national critical mass”.

Among those taking part in the discussion were Lord Mark Sedwill, the former cabinet secretary and national security adviser, Lord George Robertson, the former head of NATO and Labour’s defense secretary, and General Lord David Richards, the former head of the armed forces.

The intervention comes amid growing concerns over Rishi Sunak’s government’s failure to increase defense spending in the spring Budget, despite Defense Secretary Grant Shapps warning that Britain was in a “pre-war world” and armed conflict continued in Ukraine.

A UK Army report published on Wednesday warned that “deterrence is based on trust.”

“Confidence in the British Army has been weakened by more than 20 years of devastation and declining combat power. Army morale is fragile,” the report adds.

The brief document highlighted a “serious wake-up call” from a senior Nato figure who warned the British Army was no longer a top-tier, or “Tier 1” fighting force.

These comments by a senior US general were first reported by Sky News last year.

The report said: “To be a credible deterrent, we need to be truly prepared for war and communicate this to potential adversaries, NATO and allies, and especially the British public.”

The document called for the creation of a “New Model Army” that would be universally respected and “ready for war.”

“We must signal to adversaries and potential adversaries the fact that we are strong and want to become stronger, while at the same time not interested in attacking or disrupting any non-aggressive city or country,” the report says.

The report highlighted the importance of the military, which had been allowed to shrink after repeated cuts to save money, Sky News noted: “Our ground forces and reserves can be said to have fallen well below the national critical mass. This must be reversed and the relationship between numbers and technology must be better understood and articulated.”

The report also called for a complete reset of the way the UK armed forces buy weapons and their supply chains to ensure better value for money.

It called for the new command structure in Whitehall to be “ready for war” and recommended the creation of a task force – similar to the one that delivered the Covid-19 vaccine – to drive change: “We must be bold and embrace the difficult, sometimes unpopular decisions if we want to provide reliable combat power within realistic budgets and meet timelines.”

Other former senior officials who took part in the February 27 discussion that led to the report included General Sir Richard Barrons, former Allied Forces Commander, General Sir Richard Shirreff, former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and Brigadier General Nigel Hall, former army officer who founded the New Bletchley Network.

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