Budget cuts reduced British Army numbers to levels not seen since the 18th century
US Navy Secretary Carlos del Toro said the UK should reassess the size of its armed forces. During a visit to the Royal United Services Institute in London on Thursday, the official pointed to positions that the United States and its allies consider threats, including escalation in the Middle East, as well as the policies of Russia and China.
Asked if the United States was concerned about whether the British Army had become too small, del Toro replied: “I think it is important for the UK to reassess where it stands today, in light of the threats that exist today.”
He said in his speech on Thursday that the center… “Near-term threats to the UK and the US” Investments in the Royal Navy “very important” Noting that the United States has “We continued to make significant investments in national security.” Even in light of economic challenges. Del Toro claimed that the threats include the escalating crisis in the Middle East, Yemen, Iran, China and Russia.
In response to a question about whether US and British operations in the Middle East – currently a naval operation and bombing against the Houthis in Yemen – could expand to include Iran, del Toro said: “Nothing is off the table.”
A shortage of sailors forced the Royal Navy to retire two of its frigates, HMS Westminster and HMS Argyll, earlier this month, and the army's overall numbers have reached levels not seen since the 18th century.
This comes one day after the British Army Commander, General Sir Patrick Sanders, delivered a speech in which he warned the public to prepare for conscription in the event of war with Russia. Speaking at a military conference in London, the general pointed to Sweden's reintroduction of national service as an example and warned against it “As the pre-war generation, we must prepare likewise – and that is the task of the entire nation.”
Currently, the UK's regular army numbers more than 74,000 soldiers, of which 20,000 will take part in NATO's largest military exercise in decades – Resilient Defender 2024; 90,000 soldiers from the bloc's 31 member states, plus Sweden, will participate in war games across Europe.
Moscow has expressed concerns about NATO's expansion towards its borders, saying it views the military bloc as a threat. Russian President Vladimir Putin cited Kiev's stated intention to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as one of the main reasons for the conflict in Ukraine.