The Daily Telegraph

Defence review: cuts will leave Britain unable to fight wars like Iraq and Afghanistan
The Daily Telegraph

The Coalition’s defence review yesterday outlined cuts across the Armed Forces that will reduce the military operations the country will be able to conduct in future. The review also confirmed that Britain will no longer be able to fight conflicts on the scale of Iraq or Afghanistan after defence cuts significantly reduced the number of troops, aircraft and ships that can be sent to war.

In the event of a major war-fighting operation, the limit on a short-term deployment will be 30,000, well below the 45,000 sent into Iraq in 2003. For “enduring operations” over several years, Britain will only be able to sustain a force of 6,500 combat troops. There are currently 10,000 British personnel in Afghanistan.

The review reduced Britain’s deployable forces by around one third, but only set out plans for total services manpower to fall by around 10 per cent, from 175,000 to 158,000. Defence officials have now launched a further study of how many service personnel will be needed to sustain Britain’s new, smaller operations in future. That work could lead to more manpower cuts later in the decade, officials said.

In the Commons, Mr Cameron defended the cuts as the result of Labour’s “scorched earth” running of the economy and mismanagement of defence. But he tacitly admitted that the cuts will alter the nation’s place in the world.