British Army upgrades long overdue, says ex-MOD Director

11 May 2022, 10:21 | Updated: 11 May 2022, 11:20

UK army organisation is 'bat out' and upgrades are long overdue, says former MOD Director
UK army organisation is 'bat out' and upgrades are long overdue, says former MOD Director. Picture: LBC/Open Government Licence v3.0.

By Tim Dodd

There are "questions to be asked" about why the British Army's fleet hasn't been upgraded in around 20 years, says the MOD's former Military Operations Director Air Marshal Edward Stringer CBE.

It comes as Britain’s top general Sir Mark Carleton-Smith admitted the Army is "too small" to tackle threats to the UK’s security.

Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, a former SAS commander, said he was "not comfortable" upon learning the Ministry of Defence intended to cut the size of the regular army by 9,000 soldiers. Sir Mark told Soldier magazine: "I’m not comfortable with an Army of just 73,000 [full-time troops]... It is too small."

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Air Marshal Stringer said: "Yes, I think it is. I think our major allies, especially the Americans, have been increasingly concerned since the army dropped below that magic number of 100,000."

According to the former Director-General, most commentators agreed following an integrated review that the armed forces had the "least developed plan for mapping out its role in the future and also the modernisation process that it would need to go through".

He told LBC that the British army "can't get too thin" and needs to be "expeditionary" if it's going to project Britain's voice in the world.

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"The army fleet has not really been upgraded for about 20 years, and I think there are some questions to be asked across the whole service and MOD as to how it's got to that position," Air Marshal Stringer said.

"It's never really solidified its equipment programme. And both the navy and the airforce have, over the same time, recapitalised.

"I would have thought that it's one of the biggest priorities for the MOD really, to sort the army's order of battle, it's ORBAT [Order of Battle], and get its fleet sorted."

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