- Darren Staples/Reuters
- Britain would struggle to withstand Russia on the battlefield, army head to warn.
- General Sir Nick Carter will say Theresa May must give more money to the military or Britain will become increasingly vulnerable to the threat of Vladimir Putin.
- Senior military officials rarely speak so frankly about the challenges facing British defence.
LONDON – Britain’s military would struggle to compete with Russia in a war and the UK government must invest more money in order to protect the nation, the head of the army will warn today.
General Sir Nick Carter will use a speech on Monday to warn ministers that Britain “cannot afford to sit back” as Vladimir Putin’s Russia enhances its long-range missiles and ability to deploy on-the-ground troops quickly.
He will also reiterate the growing threat of Russia’s cyber warfare tactics, and issue the warning that Britain is “not immune” to the danger posed online.
“Our ability to pre-empt or respond to threats will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries,” Carter is expected to say in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) think-tank in London.
“State-based competition is now being employed in more novel and increasingly integrated ways and we must be ready to deal with them.”
Carter’s speech will represent a significant intervention as it is unusual for a serving senior military official to speak forthrightly about Britain’s weaknesses in defence. It will increase pressure on Theresa May’s government to give more money to the military to better equip it for the changing nature of threats.
“The threats we face are not thousands of miles away but are now on Europe’s doorstep,” Carter will say.
“We have seen how cyber warfare can be both waged on the battlefield and [used] to disrupt normal people’s lives. We in the UK are not immune from that.
“We must take notice of what is going on around us or our ability to take action will be massively constrained. Speed of decision-making, speed of deployment and modern capability are essential if we wish to provide realistic deterrence.”
He’ll add: “The time to address these threats is now – we cannot afford to sit back.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is keen to protect the army’s budget and has recently pushed back against Downing Street plans to cut manpower and resources, according to The Times.
Military chiefs are currently trying to deal with a £20 billion ($28 billion) cut to their budget for plans to buy submarines, warships, jets, and armoured vehicles over the next 10 years.