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UK military unprepared for conflict of any kind – ex-defense official

Britain would be barely able to defend itself, let alone mount a foreign campaign, a former official has warned

Britain’s military is in such a bad state that it may not be able to defend the country, let alone mount an expeditionary force of any significant strength, a former official tasked with assessing the armed forces has told the Financial Times.

Rob Johnson, director of the Oxford Changing Character of War Centre, was appointed in May 2022 for a two-year term as head of the Defense Ministry’s Office for Net Assessment and Challenge (SONAC).

The researcher told the FT he wanted to share his grim conclusions with the public because he is “deeply worried” about what he discovered. He insisted his assessment is realistic, rather than alarmist.

The armed forces “cannot defend the British homelands properly” and have a “bare minimum” to conduct small-scale peacekeeping missions, disaster relief operations, evacuations of civilians from war zones and anti-sabotage activities, according to the article published on Monday.

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“In any larger-scale operation, we would run out of ammunition rapidly” Johnson warned. “Our defenses are too thin, and we are not prepared to fight and win an armed conflict of any scale.”

If the UK were to deploy an expeditionary force of the size comparable to what it had during the Falklands (Malvinas) War of 1982 or the invasion of Iraq in 2003, it “would be under-equipped, leaving troops at risk.”

The deficiencies are spread across the military branches, according to Johnson. British air defenses could be unable to stop large-scale long-range missile strikes, the Royal Navy does not have enough ships to patrol the North Atlantic, while the Royal Air Force needs to double its fleet of fighter jets.

“The government is not taking the public into its confidence about the scale of the threat because it knows it’s not ready,” Johnson said. The revelations do not damage national security because “the Russians already know this anyway,” he claimed, referring to the fact that London considers Russia an imminent military threat to Britain.

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The British government last year set out to restore the UK’s global prominence as part of its foreign policy direction. The state of the military does not support that, Johnson indicated, saying: “We have to cut our coat to fit our cloth.”

The warning adds to a plethora of similar British media reports and remarks by officials, who advocate ramping up defense spending.

July 02, 2024 at 04:02PM

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