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Defence chiefs lament perilous state of military

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 07, 2013

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Britain's defences are perilously overstretched and its Royal Navy "too small" to meet commitments, according to a damning new report by former top-ranking service chiefs.

The UK National Defence Association (UKNDA), a pressure group campaigning in support of the armed forces, says cuts have already gone too far.

The group maintains that cuts under the Government's Strategic Defence Spending Review (SDSR) demonstrated "all too clearly our armed forces have already lost many of their essential capabilities", he added.

The UKNDA report, The State of the Nation's Armed Forces, is an in-depth analysis of the Navy, Army and RAF, each conducted by a former service chief.

Former head of the Royal Navy Admiral Lord West's conclusion makes for worrying reading.

He says: "I have no doubt that today the Royal Navy is too small to meet all the commitments expected of it by the government and the British people."

While praising the men and women who serve in the Navy as being "amazingly dedicated and well-trained people" Lord West goes on to say that too much is being asked of too few people.

"Manpower is stretched exceedingly thin and I would describe the situation as fragile," he said.

"The Naval Service is therefore far from being as robust as the nation has a right to expect."

Lord West argues for an increase in the number of ships and submarines, saying defence funding must be increased to the equivalent of 3 per cent of GDP. An increased defence budget is "vital to the survival and wealth of our nation and people", he said.

In their sections of the UKNDA report, former army chief General Sir Michael Rose warns manpower gaps and an over-reliance on the Territorial Army "could prove fatal". Meanwhile Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, a former head of the RAF, laments the loss of "whole capabilities".

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