A speech from General Sir Nick Carter will announce that British armed forces are at risk of falling behind Russia, if no further investments are made.
General Carter will announce that the ability of the British armed forces to respond to threats “will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries”.
A clear warning
Speculation on potential defence cuts is rife, therefore the speech, approved by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, issues a clear caution to the future of the arm in Britain.
The speech will be announced at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) today (22 January), and will emphasise the cyber warfare capabilities of Russia, as well as the Russian army’s long-range missile strike capabilities.
During operations in Syria, Russia deployed 26 missiles from a 1,500km range.
General Carter will note Russia’s increasing and aggressive force, of whose capabilities the British Army would have difficulty countering.
He will add: “Our ability to pre-empt or respond to threats will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries. State-based competition is now being employed in more novel and increasingly integrated ways and we must be ready to deal with them.
“The threats we face are not thousands of miles away but are now on Europe’s doorstep – we have seen how cyber warfare can be both waged on the battlefield and to disrupt normal people’s lives. We in the UK are not immune from that.”
What will be the UK’s response?
Nia Griffith, the Labour party’s shadow defence secretary, said that she was certain that General Carter would have been making the case out of the public eye, but as a “last resort” had gone public to raise awareness of the approaching issue.
Former Royal Navy Rear Admiral Dr Chris Parry told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “I think in qualitative terms we would fare very badly, whether it was the Army, navy or air force against current Russian capabilities.
“I’m afraid to say the world is changing, it’s moving. The Russians – and the Chinese – are developing capabilities right now with which we cannot cope today.”
Meanwhile, defence analysts have raised concerns as the UK currently have no submarine-hunting maritime patrol aircraft, and haven’t since 2010, whilst ships and submarines which protect cables have fallen, too.