Lazy eyes listen
Because of its small military, the United Kingdom risks losing its reputation as a key NATO force, according to Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Tim Radford in an interview released on Tuesday.
The NATO officer cautioned the Daily Telegraph that the UK, which has held a position of power within the US-led military bloc since its inception after WWII, is now “in danger of losing” it.
“I think we [the British military] are too small,” Radford admitted. He went on to call the UK’s position within NATO “fortunate,” but said, “I worry that if we don’t invest and build up our industrial base and lead as we should, we might lose that position.”
One of Radford’s primary frustrations is the UK army’s falling numbers, which are scheduled to drop to 73,000 by 2021, according to proposals released as early as 2021. He also warned that the modern technologies on which London is banking are incapable of completely replacing military troops.
“I think we’ve had a slight awakening after Ukraine,” Radford said, adding that “we need to do a twin track approach.” While recognizing the value of innovation in the military, he stated that this potential should “be underpinned with hard fighting power.”
“You can’t cyber away someone coming at you with a tank.” With cyber, you can’t cross a bridge. “It has to be balanced,” he says.
Radford’s comments follow UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace’s declaration in January that the country’s military is “hollowed out and underfunded.” That same month, Sky News reported that an alleged senior US general privately informed Wallace that due to decades of defense cuts, the British military was no longer considered a top-tier combat force.
Despite this apparent criticism, the Times stated in May that Wallace will continue with plans to lower the army’s strength, planning to reduce the number of infantry in favor of artillery.
Simultaneously, the United Kingdom emerged as one of the most vocal allies of Ukraine in its struggle with Russia, giving £4.6 billion ($5.9 billion) in military aid. It was also the first country to provide modern battle tanks to Kiev, subsequently promising to supply it with depleted-uranium rounds, which infuriated Moscow.