Army chief
warns cuts
reform plan

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The head of the Army has warned Ministers that any further cuts will jeopardise the service’s reform programme.

General Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, said they would need all their current allocation if they were to deliver a “well-trained, well-equipped and fully funded” force capable of defending the national interest.

His intervention comes after the former chief of the defence staff, General Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, warned that the armed forces were not in a fit state to deal with current threats facing the country – notably terrorism – and would deteriorate if spending did not increase.

And earlier this month, the National Audit Office warned of “significant risks” to the Army reform programme – known as Army 2020 – which is seeing the regular Army cut by 20,000 to 82,000 while the number of part-time reservists is being increased from 19,000 to 30,000.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute land warfare conference in London, Gen Wall said that any further cuts in next year’s strategic defence and security review could leave them unable to honour commitments made by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

“This is primarily about resources. The complexity of our change programme and its dependencies is significant – with plenty of risk,” he said.

With operations winding down in Afghanistan, Gen Wall acknowledged that there was currently little appetite among politicians for fresh military engagements oversea but stressed that the Army had to be prepared to deal with any new threat which might emerge.