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House of Commons Defence Committee calls for UK to match military ambitions with resources

The 28 July Defence Committee report expresses concerns about cuts in British Army Challenger 2 tanks (background) and Warrior infantry fighting vehicles (hull down in foreground). (Janes/Patrick Allen)

The House of Commons Defence Committee has expressed a sense of déjà vu about UK military ambitions not being entirely matched by resources. In a report published on 28 July, the committee called for the March 2021 Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy and the March 2022 Defence Command Paper (DCP) to be updated to take into account the lessons of Afghanistan and Ukraine, which it said the UK government “was manifestly not prepared for”, even calling the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “arrogant and unwilling to learn lessons”.

The Defence Committee report identified challenges facing the MoD following decisions made in the Integrated Review: the likelihood of a capability gap as equipment is retired before being replaced; a reduction in the British Army's heavy armour and mass at a time when tank battles are being fought in Ukraine; and a reliance on yet-to-be-tested and proven technology to make up for reductions in equipment and numbers.

The report stated, “The cuts to capability − both in terms of army numbers and armour as the number of tanks are reduced from 227 Challenger 2 [main battle tanks] to 148 upgraded Challenger 3 and the Warrior [infantry fighting vehicle] upgrade programme has been [cancelled] − raise serious concerns given the Integrated Review and the Defence Command Paper saw future warfare as being hybrid … compounded by the delay to the Ajax programme.”

Fearing overstretch, the Defence Committee recommended a wholesale re-examination of the decisions and timeframes of the DCP and decisions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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