British Army is in a ‘dire state’ says Tobias Ellwood
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Members of the Commons defence committee are understood to be “incandescent” over a delay by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide an answer on the readiness of Britain’s armed forces. The revelation comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace this morning conceded that the British army is 15 years behind its peers because of a series of blunders over upgrading equipment.
The question has been asked amid “serious concerns” among MPs from all parties that the British armed forces are not prepared for a major conflict.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey is set to give evidence to the defence committee chaired by Tory MP Tobias Ellwood on Wednesday and will face angry questions on why the MoD is unable to provide an answer about the state of readniess of the military.
A member of the committee said: “Colleagues are incandescent about this. We have asked the question privately of the MoD and after more than two weeks have still not received an answer.
“Given what we know, this gives us serious concerns about the actual state of readiness.”
It follows a series of recent committee meetings where the poor state of the armed forces has been exposed leading former Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois to describe the army’s heavy armour vehicles including troop carriers and tanks as “clapped out”.
He alleged if Russia was to invade a Baltic NATO ally the UK would “struggle to get half the vehicles out of the tank park” and pointed out it would take 60 days to get help to the other side of the continent.
Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood has been pushing for defence to get more money from the Treasury, a case Mr Wallace has also been making.
Mr Francois is chairing an inquiry set up by the defence committee to look into problems with defence procurement after a litany of issues regarding military upgrades and new equipment.
Problems also include the £1 billion Type 45 Destroyers being unable to sail in warm water to protect British aircraft carriers in the Pacific.
Some of the heavy army vehicles used by the army are 50 years old and replacements are now not expected to be operation until the 2030s.
Even issues like bringing service personnel accommodation up to standard are well behind schedule.
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Mr Ellwood has raised concerns recently as the Americans have questioned whether the UK is in shape to fight a war claiming the Ukraine conflict has shown shortcomings in the British army.
Meanwhile, the government is reconsidering its defence and security strategy in the light of the war in Ukraine.
Among the proposals it is under pressure to reconsider is a plan to chop the army numbers by 10,000.
It has been reported that Mr Sunak will use a trip to the US in the coming days to announce a major increase in defence spending to try to turn around years of under investment.
This should then be confirmed in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Budget next week.
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