Army slashed in size but moved closer to Russia for ‘leaner hi-tech defence’

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of breaking yet another promise today as the government has unveiled plans to shrink the size of the British Army.

While three new bases are expected to be opened, overall troop numbers will cut from 82,000 to 73,000 despite a previous Tory manifesto pledge to maintain an Army strength of 82,000, MailOnline reports.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey warned the Commons: “By the time of the next election we will have the smallest Army in 300 years.”

While the army will be shrinking, a brigade-sized force of mobile troops will be deployed deeper into Germany in the event of aggressive moves from Russia.

A NATO forward holding base in Sennelager will be designated as one of the army’s new "land regional hubs", housing Challenger 3 tanks, Boxer armoured fighting vehicles and the much-delayed Ajax combat vehicle.

Lieutenant General Ralph Wooddisse, commander field army, said that the regional hubs would enable the army to “spread more rapidly” and “be ready to deploy from those should it be required”.

“I particularly emphasise Germany, where we are putting a substantial number of our armoured vehicles forward in order to be able to move more quickly should they be required anywhere on the continental land mass,” he said.

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An Army source told The Times that “instead of having everything based in the UK and having to get across the Channel, they will be more forward-deployed so we don’t have to put them all on boats”.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that the government would be laying out an extra £8.6bn on equipment, bringing the total investment to £41.3bn, to create “a modern, innovative and digitised army”.

He promised that the army would be “as agile in the new domains of cyberspace as it is on the ground”, with state-of-the-art equipment including upgraded tanks.

Lt Gen Wooddisse commented: “If I’m honest, the army of today doesn’t look vastly different to the army of the end of the Second World War and it hasn’t been tested in anger since then.

“It seems inconceivable to me that structure, that equipment and the way of fighting will work the next time we are tested.

“I think what we are proposing today is an army that will stand a much better chance of being successful in the wars of tomorrow rather than the wars of yesterday.”

  • Boris Johnson
  • British Army
  • Russia

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