UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has released a statement that disputes a report in the Sunday Times that defence chiefs were planning to cut the armed forces.
His comments came in response to claims that senior officials are reportedly considering plans to reduce the size of the British Army and lend a British Royal Navy flagship aircraft carrier, sparking fears of additional cuts in defence spending.
On Twitter, Wallace said: “For the record: there are no plans to shrink the Army. In fact, my direction to the Army has been to improve recruiting and retention levels.
He added: “In the Manifesto, there will be new policies to help. This story is nonsense.”
The article said that senior officers are discussing a British Army of 60,000 to 65,000, the smallest for centuries and army chiefs are planning to lease one of the new aircraft carriers to the US, a move that is expected to cause an uproar in the navy.
Quoting an unnamed source, the report stated: “The army hates the aircraft carriers, which they have always seen as white elephants, but the Americans love them. They’re cutting-edge because they can operate with the far fewer crew than the US carriers.
“The army can’t recruit or retain the people it needs. Both the army and the navy think that the job of the RAF will soon be done by drones.”
In 2017, Theresa May promised to maintain the overall size of the armed forces above 82,000 however, the number of fighting personnel currently stands at 73,000.
According to The Sunday Times, even though a future government has promised to maintain defence spending at over 2% of GDP, service chiefs are said to be considering plans that would refocus the UK’s defence capability and reduce the number of army personnel.
The report said that instead, the government is likely to maintain defence spending at over 2% of GDP and increase it each year at half a percentage point above inflation.
This funding level was confirmed at the release of the Conservatives manifesto which reads: “We will continue to exceed the NATO target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence and increase the budget by at least 0.5% above inflation every year of the new Parliament.”
In an interview with the BBC last year, UK’s Maritime Forces former commander Rear Admiral Alex Burton said that Britain was in danger of losing its status as a credible military power.
Burton warned that a reduction in budgetary allocations and growing military threats are affecting Britain’s ability to win on the front line.
According to Daily Mail, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who secured additional funding of £2.2bn for the military, said that he prefers a cut in capabilities and take up several smaller things, giving priority for improved kit rather than a larger fighting force.