UK Staff Chief to cut his term, step down next year over state of army
Experts raise the alarm over the resignation of the top army official after such a short-lived term.
Chief of the UK's Armed Forces will be stepping down from his position next year over disputes with the government regarding the state of the military, Sky News reported on Thursday citing defense officials.
General Sir Patrick Sanders would have served an unusually short term, the news site pointed out, adding that the process to fill in his position will start in July.
Sources told the outlet that the exit of such a senior official is alarming, and has a trace of "will no one rid me of this troublesome priest" about it.
The report said that Sanders has been opposing the government's bid to decrease the number of army personnel over spending issues and calling for the need to grow the country's military force after decades of size cuts.
According to Sky News, the UK is opting to save on salary expenses in favor of modernizing its ground, naval, and air forces.
Following the start of the war in Ukraine, the army chief has been pushing for the need to rebuild war capabilities.
In his most recent intervention, Sanders stressed the need for "credible armed forces," and warned that the land forces should not be neglected just because the United Kingdom is an island.
"Those who believe that our geography allows us to minimise investment on land or that we can simply hide behind the armies of other NATO contributors are simply wrong," he said at the annual Land Warfare Conference 2023 earlier this week.
Commenting on the state of the army's hardware - such as combat and armored vehicles - Sanders said that "many of our platforms are outdated and not fit for purpose."
The army's top soldier equated fighting vehicles such as Warrior and Challenger 2 to "rotary dial telephones in an iPhone age."
A previous report on the army's readiness concluded that the majority of the British army's armored vehicles, including tanks, were manufactured between 30 and 60 years ago, and comprehensive replacements are not expected for several years.
It would take the British army five to ten years to produce a war-fighting division of 25,000 to 30,000 troops supported by tanks, artillery, in addition to helicopters, the report pointed out.
Earlier this year, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was warned by a senior US general that the British army is not a top-level fighting force.
In light of the war in Ukraine, decades of downsizing are reported to have resulted in a decrease in warfighting capabilities, which must be restored as soon as possible, Wallace was informed.
A defense source was quoted by Sky News as saying, "Bottom line... it's an entire service unable to protect the UK and our allies for a decade."
"History will look back at the choices they make in the coming weeks as fundamental to whether this government genuinely believes that its primary duty is the defense of the realm or whether that is just a slogan to be given lip service," another source added.