On Sunday, the Defence Committee released its report entitled ‘Ready for War?’. It is thorough report which goes through what we can expect of our Armed Forces in a high intensity, prolonged war against another modern, technologically advanced adversary and how prepared we are as a country to face that ultimate challenge.
While we all wish wars were something we had moved on from in the twenty-first century the reality is that the world has become more dangerous over the last ten years. There is a war raging on our continent following Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine and increased tensions globally: the need to deter against the threat of an all-out war is more pressing than it has been for a generation.
It is only by being prepared for war that we can avoid it through effective deterrence.
We are rightly proud of our Armed Forces, they are a world-class fighting force. We are fortunate to have highly trained and skilled personnel operating at home and overseas, unwavering in their commitment. However, while the Armed Forces are operationally ready and able to deploy at a moment’s notice they are being routinely tasked in multiple directions. We need to ensure they are equipped, staffed and trained for the worst case scenario.
This tempo of activity places pressure on our people: we are currently losing service personnel faster than we can recruit. This is a dangerous cycle we need to break.
The latest Steadfast Defender joint NATO exercise – the largest NATO drill since the end of the Cold War – and the UK’s significant contribution – is very welcome, but these essential exercises with our allies will create greater pressures on our forces alongside existing commitments.
We must start thinking strategically about our national resources including our defence industry which is a great strategic asset. However it's only through greater prioritisation or additional resources that we can maintain the high operational tempo and enhance our deterrence by preparing alongside allies for high-intensity warfare.
As General Omar Bradley said, “peace is our goal, but preparedness is the price we must pay”. To confront the threats we face with confidence, we need to ensure we are ready for every threat.