I’m a military expert and this is why I’m worried Britain is no longer secure – and what the government can do to fix it

The UK spends more on defence than any EU ally and our brave Armed Forces have long been one of Britain’s most influential levers around the world.

Yet for decades they have been hollowed out by spending cuts. Those made sense when the Cold War ended. We no longer faced the threat of invasion or war. We thought we could be friends with Russia. We spent money on health, education and welfare instead.

Now we have a war in Europe, and our Armed forces are smaller and less ready to fight than at any time in living memory.

The Army is on track to slip below 76,000 troops, about half the size of our Cold War force.
Its tanks, armoured vehicles and artillery pieces are mostly over 30 years old. The ones that still work are being sent to Ukraine, which is the right thing to do. Much of what is left is essentially broken.

Even Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says it will take a decade to rebuild to the force we need today.

Years of cuts to ammunition production mean that, for some types of key weapons, the Army would run out in a busy afternoon.

Training has been hit as well. Last year only half the Army was put through basic company-level drills, in units of roughly 100 troops, and almost none at the higher levels essential to be fit to fight.
Our Navy and Air Force are in better shape. They have some outstanding modern equipment. But without the people, ammunition and spare parts, they risk being a glittering shop window with nothing behind.

Why does that matter to Sun readers?

The world is a dangerous place. Comfortable certainties about our security have evaporated.

Russia unleashed a bloodbath in Europe and calls it a war with Nato.

The US has said it is no longer willing to subsidise Europe’s security so much. China has made no secret of its ambition to take Taiwan and is building the world’s biggest navy.

Climate change is fuelling global instability, while robotics and AI are bringing extraordinary disruption.

After 30 years off, the UK is once again dealing with huge risks. Denying this and hoping for the best will not cut it.
We need to modernise. The war in Ukraine shows it is impossible to sneak up on anyone with an Army, Navy or Air Force, thanks to space-based surveillance.

Traditional military platforms such as ships, tanks and aircraft are at risk from new precision missiles. So are massed formations of troops.

If you can see and hit a garden shed at 50 miles or more, the Army must rethink how it operates.

There is no point spending on more of the old stuff. We must invest in military capability for the 21st century. Drones and missiles may dominate the horrific images spewing out of Ukraine but the unseen power of cyber and electronic warfare is just as significant.

This is the biggest change for 150 years, and the UK must be among the winners.

If the Army is capped at 76,000 soldiers, we must double our reserves to 60,000. Those troops will need the ability to see well into the depths of the enemy, weapons that can hit at over 600 miles, and the ability to take and hold ground and ground-based air defence.

Nato should be our priority. The tilt to Asia can wait. We have a war in Europe now. Win, lose or draw in Ukraine, Russia will remain a bitter and aggressive neighbour long after the shooting stops.

This is difficult for the Government to think about. Our Prime Minister was 11 years old when the Cold War ended and we last felt the threat of great harm in the UK. Since then, our politics have focused on how to provide the other things we really want.

We can no longer think like this. Unless we restore our defences, all our hopes for all our lives will rely on our friends protecting us and our enemies leaving us alone.

Unless our ministers take bold steps now, our security is lost.

The good news is, the urgent bill for fixing the Army is comparatively modest. To rebuild the Army so it can deal with a surprise Russian attack will cost an extra £3billion this year, and every year for the next ten years.

Governments always have to make hard choices, and this is a hard choice, but it can’t be put off any longer.


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