War ‘put navy under strain’

ACTION HMS Liverpool on patrol off the coast of Libya
ACTION HMS Liverpool on patrol off the coast of Libya
Defence correspondent om Cotterill on the jet simulator

The News defence correspondent ‘lands’ jet on HMS Queen Elizabeth

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THE war in Libya put Britain’s military ‘under considerable strain’ and raises questions about the government’s defence cuts, a leading think tank warned yesterday.

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) carried out analysis of Libyan operations and said last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review, which saw the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal axed and the navy’s surface fleet reduced to just 19 ships, meant its resources were stretched.

The report said while the forces had successfully ‘improvised’ and the navy and RAF had ‘diverted assets’ to cope with the ‘small operation’, it had put forces ‘under some considerable strain’.

Turning to the toppling of former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi, RUSI said it can be put down to ‘improvisation’ and ‘good luck’ as well as military prowess.

Defence secretary Liam Fox responded by praising the military’s effort in Libya, adding: ‘Operations in Libya have vindicated decisions taken in the SDSR and shown that we retain our global reach.’