Military chief turns fire on defence cuts

General Sir David Richards warned about the effect of cuts from the 2010 strategic defence and security review on Britain's global influence.
General Sir David Richards warned about the effect of cuts on Britain's global influence.

By Alex Gangitano

Defence cuts have left the military unable to carry out their duties, according to the head of the armed forces.

Chief of the defence staff General Sir David Richards told an Oxford University lecture that the government’s demands do not correspond with the decreased size of Britain's military.

"Often politicians say to me, 'Can you go and do this?' I say to them, 'with what?'" Richards told the audience.

One of Richards' "biggest concerns" is that the Royal Navy does not have enough warships, he admitted.

He also complained about the reduction in the number of officers, claiming this would also have a negative effect on Britain's global influence.

"Our political masters are quite happy to reduce the size of the armed forces, but their appetite to exercise influence on the world stage is, quite understandably, the same as it has always been," Richards said.

The strategic defence and security review heralded an eight per cent cut in funding and reduced military personnel in 2010.

Richards continued to criticise the government in regards to the war in Afghanistan.

"All the military can do is buy space and time and opportunity for a political resolution of a problem. It is a great shame that we have not understood this," Richards said.

He called for a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Britain will withdraw its troops from combat roles in the country by the end of 2014.


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