Former military boss Lord Richards has hit out at the coalition’s plans to cut military budgets, claiming the move is more suited to a “banana republic”. General Richards said the move from full-time to part-time soldiers would be a problem if the country needed to become involved in any long-term conflict like Iraq, according to the Daily Mail.
Lord Richard claimed that he had not been involved in the decision to cut forces back, which will involve the reduction of 20,000 soldiers over the next four years. He also said he felt cut out of the decision before he stood down from his post as Chief of Defence Staff, a position he had held since 2010.
In a separate attack on Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, Richard said that he respected him but he was not “clubbable”, and that he lack the attributes to be a soldier. His comments demonstrate the resentment being created by the cuts in the military, which will see the largest redundancy programme in the history of the British military.
“You will always have an army or armed forces. Every country does”, he said. “The difference between the British armed forces and those of most other countries, and I’ve come across many, is the quality of our people. We don’t pay them brilliantly by any means. Only now, when I’m outside, do I realise for the first time what people can be paid.
“But because we look after them and because it’s socially at every level acceptable to be in the Army. Whether you are a private in the greenhouse from Yorkshire, or the heir to the throne, or you are a captain in some smart organisation, the fact is there is a consensus that it’s a good to be in the armed forces.
“If you lose that because you don’t look after your people well, you will have an army, a navy and an air force, but it will be the sort of army, navy and air force with which we don’t associate with the British, that you associate with banana republics ultimately.”
Richard believes that cutting numbers of soldiers to 82,000 would lead to them having to do far more tours of duty in war zones than is considered appropriate. Putting pressure on armed forces that they may not be able to cope with in the long-term.
Lord Richards commanded the armed forces in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007, and as is the custom he was given a seat in the House of Lords when he retired as Chief of the Defence Staff last summer. When he made his maiden speech in the Lords this week he took the opportunity to call for more resources to deal with jihadis.
After the cut Britain will still be the second biggest spender in NATO, but there are real fears about Mr Hammond’s plan to rely on reservists. Modern armies are highly mechanised and much of equipment requires skill and training to handle, there are concerns that part-timers would be unable to live up to the standards required.
The news of Lord Richards comments come just days after Breitbart London reported the problems being faced by army recruiters. More British citizens joined the jihad in Syria and Iraq than signed up for the Army Reserves over the last twelve months.