Just how overstretched is the British Army?
Just to put this in perspective, the British army has suffered deaths in war every year except one since the end of World War Two. That’s a lot of fighting (or peacekeeping, depending on which side you’re on). The British people are generally very proud of their armed services – they are highly disciplined in war (rather than one nights out in their garrison towns) and effective as a result of their battle hardening experience.
However, British commanders are now saying that their forces are under unacceptable strain:-
- The air forces transport fleet is in poor shape
- the navy is shrinking
- the army has shortages of men and vital equipment (battalions are up to one-fifth below their regular size and a further fifth of the battalions are ill, injured or unfit to deploy).
- A multi billion pound hole in the defence budget for military equipment means that new systems are being cancelled, delayed or scaled down.
Things have long been this way. George Bernard Shaw, that scourge of the establishment, once joked that “the British soldier can stand up to anything except the British War Office”. That’s now called the Ministry of Defense or MOD, for obvious reasons – but scores of relatives of dead soldiers are finding out from coroners judgments that the MOD has not improved much over the last hundred years or so.