Carlos Del Toro, the United States navy secretary has urged the British government to “reassess” the size of the armed forces.
Del Toro said it is “absolutely necessary” for Western democracies to invest in defence as threats are emerging globally.
Del Toro told reporters after a speech at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) in London, “I think it is important for the United Kingdom to reassess where they are today given the threats that exist today.”
Del Toro’s comments come as General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff (CGS) said that the British Army only has 74,000 soldiers.
He said this needs to be bolstered with at least 45,000 reservists to prepare the UK for war should NATO trigger Article 5 against an attack from Russia.
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General Sir Patrick said that funding issues from the government to establish the “most lethal Army in Europe” is “being hindered.”
He said that more than 80% of the British Army’s £44 billion 10-year defence programme has not yet been committed to the UK’s Armed Forces.
Downing Street has defended Del Toro’s comments on their spending on defence and the size of the British Army.
Downing Street referred to the fact that the UK is the White House “partner of choice” with the airstrikes that has taken place against the Iranian backed Houthis militants in Yemen.
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said, “The UK is the second biggest defence spender in NATO and the largest in Europe.
“The Navy, Army and Royal Air Force are all playing an active global role, operating across every ocean and continent.
“Our military strength is also why we are the US’s partner of choice in taking action to defend against the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.
We do all of this while continuing to be a world-leading supporter of Ukraine’s defence.
“We announced an uplift in military funding of £2.5 billion during the Prime Minister’s recent visit to Kyiv this month.”
On Thursday the UK’s former NATO commander General Sir Richard Sherriff has said that it is now time to “think the unthinkable” and is urging the government to introduce conscription.
He said that the UK has had years of defence cuts, and he is urging the government to “go further and look carefully at conscription.”
General Sir Richard who is the former deputy supreme allied commander said that the government’s current defence budget needs to be bigger.
Speaking to Sky News the former top NATO commander said, “Conscription to most professional soldiers, and I count myself as one, is absolute anathema.
“Britain’s armed forces have traditionally and culturally relied on long service volunteer highly professional soldiers with huge experience – and that is really the way we would all want it to go on.”
Since the end of the Cold War the UK has cut defence budgets, he then warned, “I think we need to get over many of the cultural hang-ups and assumptions, and frankly think the unthinkable.
“I think we need to go further and look carefully at conscription.”