Defence reduced to a ‘sharp twig’, says Lord

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CHANGES to the armed forces have left the country in possession of a ‘sharp twig’ rather than a big stick, according to a former Chief of the Defence Staff.

Speaking in the House of Lords yesterday, Lord Craig of Radley said defence budget cuts in recent years have led him to doubt the government’s future defence plans.

He said: ‘My principal concern is the funding required to match the force levels of 2020 is not assured.

‘Indeed it seems from the trends in defence budget squeezes of the past couple of years that there is no longer any realistic expectation that Future Force 2020 is financially achievable.’

He said Army levels are expected to shrink by 20 per cent and the prospect of relying more on reservists has yet to be achieved or put to the test.

‘Does the government realise today they carry more of a sharp twig than the big stick of yesteryear?’ he added.

‘Moreover, as numbers are scaled down the resilience of the remaining forces are compromised.’

Former First Sea Lord, Lord West of Spithead, also spoke out and said cuts to the armed forces, particularly the Royal Navy, had left the country at ‘crisis point’.