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Shadow Armed Forces Minister: Army cuts are ‘huge gamble’ with our national security

Stephen Morgan has said that the Defence Secretary’s manifesto breaking cuts to the armed forces represent a ‘huge gamble’ with our national security.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister’s warning came in response to the Defence Secretary’s statement to the House of Commons today, which confirmed the largest reorganisation of the army in a generation.

The army will be cut by 9,000 to 73,000 by 2025, its smallest since the Napoleonic era. The infantry will be reorganised into four divisions, meaning some existing brigades will be merged or deleted.

There will also be 33 site closures, including Alanbrooke Barracks at Topcliffe in North Yorkshire, severing historic and prosperous ties the Army has with communities up and down the UK.

A new elite unit of Rangers will be created to operate in complex, high threat environments as part of an Army Special Operations brigade.

The Defence Secretary claims the changes would “transform the Army into a more agile, integrated, lethal, expeditionary force”.

However, concerns have been raised by Labour and others that the changes are short-sighted against the backdrop of growing threats to the UK and its allies, not least on the Ukrainian border.

Responding to the Defence Secretary’s statement in the Commons, Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey raised fears the Government’s plan to reorganise the British Army leaves it too small, too thinly stretched and too poorly equipped to deal with the burgeoning state threats to the UK, and our allies.

Jack Watling of the influential defence and security think tank RUSI said ‘the British Army has essentially admitted that it cannot field a force for high-intensity combat for the best part of a decade’.

Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“The Government’s decision to cut the size of the British Army to its smallest since the Napoleonic era is a huge gamble with our national security.

“At a time when the threats faced by the UK and its allies are growing it is vital that we maintain the ability to reinforce Europe against Russia and be an effective warfighting partner to NATO allies. This demands high-end warfighting capabilities, not just light forces and cyber operations.

“Labour has committed to pausing, reviewing and reversing the cuts if necessary.”