‘British Army needs major overhaul – but Keir Starmer’s unlikely to stump up the cash’

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun28,2024

Britain’s armed forces need a major overhaul – but urgently needed improvements are being jeopardised by a lack of investment, a former military commander has warned.

And Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford, who spend 20 years in the 4th Royal Tank Regiment, fears General Sir Roland Walker, the Chief of the General Staff, will have his work cut out if he wants to persuade an incoming Labour Government to loosen the purse strings.

Sir Roland outlined his vision for the future in a video shared by the British Army after he took up his post earlier this month, having replaced General Sir Patrick Sanders.

He said: “The only real measurement of an army is its fighting power, is lethality in the face of very real and converging threats.

“In the near term, my challenge to the British Army is to double that lethality in three years and treble it by the end of the decade.”

However, Lt Col Crawford was unconvinced about whether it would be possible to realise Sir Roland’s ambitions.

He told Express.co.uk: “My first comment would be that we have appointed yet another special forces-background CGS at precisely the time when we need one with an armoured warfare background.

“The legacy of his predecessors in post (Sanders excepted) is that we are left with an army that is too small with the wrong equipment.”

The fact that many military vehicles were still painted in desert camouflage was “indicative of a mindset that longs for small unit operations in far-off sandy places”, Lt Col Crawford suggested.

He stressed: “The first thing I would do if I were him is order all British army vehicles to be painted green for use in Europe.”

Lt Col Crawford continued: “I’m also not clear on what exactly the corporate use of the term “lethality” actually means.

“How do we define it and how do we measure it? It should join “agile” – another favourite in military circles – in the list of banned words and phrases because it is basically meaningless.

“That said, how can we possibly double or treble ‘lethality’ without a significant increase in defence spending across the board?

“Make personnel and equipment work twice or three times as hard? We lack the numbers in both to make any difference on the scale he’s calling for, and unless the Treasury unties the purse strings then it will be nothing more than an unfunded and unrealistic aspiration.”

In a pointed message to Sir Keir days before a general election his party is widely expected to win, Lt Col Crawford concluded: “I have no doubt that Walker is a fine fellow and doughty fighter but I’m afraid we may be looking at just more of the same under his tenure.

“The British army’s problems are political, not military, and he’ll have to persuade the Labour government to spend the money to achieve his aims. I’ll not be holding my breath on that one.”

Gen Sir Roland also pinpointed “electronic warfare, uncrewed systems, air defence, long-range fires, plus logistics and stockpiles” as “the stars to steer by” when running the Army.

He also predicted that software exploiting data would “turbocharge” the modernisation of the Army, allowing significant gains in the UK’s ability to “sense threats, make decisions, and change the facts on the ground to our advantage”.

Calling for a “new partnership” with industries, he added: “Together we can double the British Army’s fighting power in three years, defend this nation and help it prosper.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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