US army chief very concerned at UK defence cuts
WASHINGTON – US Army Chief General Raymond Odierno has said that he is very concerned about cuts to Britain’s defence budget, warning that they risk reducing the Army’s ability to fight future campaigns, 92 News reported.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Raymond Odierno said that the US is already adjusting its plans based on the assumption that Britain will no longer be able to contribute division-strength forces in excess of 10,000 troops.
Gen Odierno disclosed that the cuts have forced the US to undertake an urgent review of how British troops could fight alongside their forces in future conflicts. “I would be lying to you if I did not say that I am very concerned about the GDP investment in the UK,” he said.
Referring to the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said: “In the past we would have a British Army division working alongside an American division. Now it might be a British brigade inside an American division, or even a British battalion [approximately 1,000 soldiers] inside an American brigade. We have to adjust our programme to make sure we are all able to see that we can still work together.”
Gen Odierno said it was vital that Britain remained a close ally of the US. “It is about having a partner that has very close values and the same goals as we do,” he said.
He warned that, while the US was willing to provide leadership in tackling future threats, such as Russia and Isil, it was essential that allies such as Britain played their part.
“As we look at threats around the world, these are global issues and we need to have multinational solutions,” he said. “They are concerning to everyone. We all need to be able to invest and work together to solve these problems.”
The Army is already being cut from 100,000 soldiers to about 82,000 by 2020 despite the concerns of leading military figures. It is estimated that defence spending will fall from its current level of just over 2 per cent of GDP, £36.4 billion, to just over 1.8 per cent by 2017.