Global Insider: U.K. Gambles on Leaner Armed Forces

Global Insider: U.K. Gambles on Leaner Armed Forces

The British government revealed plans in early July to restructure the British army, including cutting the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020. In an email interview, Michael Codner, the director of the military sciences department at the Royal United Services Institute in London, discussed the U.K.’s defense cuts.

WPR: What are the concrete consequences, in terms of force size and capabilities, of the defense cuts the U.K. has announced?

Michael Codner: The cuts in the army, as well as to the Royal Marines, who were affected through the earlier 18 percent cuts to the navy, are being implemented on the assumption that the U.K. will in the future only be able to commit a brigade-sized force -- plus command and control and combat support -- to a major enduring operation while simultaneously carrying out two smaller-scale operations and contingencies. This is a reduction from the division-sized Joint Rapid Reaction Force envisaged in the 1998 Strategic Defense Review and deployed in the 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars against Iraq. Typically such interventions are matters of government choice in both initial commitment and scale in a multinational context.

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