Earlier this morning the Defence Committee chaired by the Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, released a report detailing investigations [by the committee] into the Future Army 2020 plan. The committee noted an acceptance that Army 2020 “was designed to fit a financial envelope” and raised concerns that this fact took precedence over the nation’s ability to “respond to the threats, risks and uncertainties contained in the National Security Strategy.”
Despite the current lack of public appetite, we consider it to be a question of when, not if, UK Armed Forces will have to undertake an expeditionary operation in the future. In this context, it is essential that the Army maintains its ability to undertake such operations at short notice. Any loss of such capability would have serious implications for the UK’s national security. – Defence Committee
The committee does not believe that the Army 2020 plan represents “a convincing blueprint” to combat the risk from “uncertain threats” and “unforeseen circumstances” that the armed forces are likely to meet in the future. The Army 2020 plan may also be the first casualty of a war between bean-counters, should there be further budgetary or manpower reductions. It is clear that the Army 2020 plan does not have 20/20 vision.
The report raises a number of questions that several people will be interested in hearing what the MOD has to say. Two of the key conclusions are as follows:
- First, the MoD has failed to communicate the rationale and strategy behind the plan to the Army, the wider Armed Forces, Parliament or the public.
- Second, we remain concerned that the financially driven reduction in the numbers of Regulars has the potential to leave the Army short of personnel particularly in key supporting capabilities until sufficient additional Reserves are recruited and trained.