United Kingdom

Robert Gates Says UK Military Cuts Could Harm Its Ability To Be "Full Partner"


Credit: Alfred Leete (1882–1933/wikimedia

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that cuts to the British military will mean that, "With the fairly substantial reductions in defence spending in Great Britain, what we're finding is that it won't have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past."

Prime Minister David Cameron responded to Gates' comments saying "We are a first-class player in terms of defence and as long as I am Prime Minster that is the way it will stay."

According to the BBC, the British government is planning to cut "30,000 armed forces personnel by 2020, leaving 147,000."

It is worth considering the size of the U.K.'s military given its size.

The U.K. is smaller than Wyoming and has a population roughly one fifth that of the U.S. Despite its small size, the U.K. is the fourth largest military spender in the world.

Of course, the British have fought with the U.S. in a number of military conflicts, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given how those conflicts worked out, perhaps it would be better for the U.K. not "to be a full partner" with the U.S. in future conflicts.

The British military will be able to defend the U.K. and its territories (which is what it should be used for) even if the planned reductions are accounted for. See graphic on the planned reductions from the BBC below:

Credit: BBC

Even with a drop in the number of military personnel planned, it is worth remembering that the U.K. is one of the world's few nuclear powers. The U.K.'s military, even post reductions, will be more than capable of deterring attack. That is what British policy makers should be concerned about, not the British military's ability to be a "full partner" in future U.S.-led foreign adventures. 

NEXT: Family of Ohio Death Row Inmate Plan to Sue Over Botched Execution

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Keep calm and don’t carry your share of the load.

  2. Poodles.

  3. Team America, World Batman Police needs its Robin. Or at least wants him. Not in a gay way, of course.

    1. I thought the Brits were into that.

      1. Only if they went to boarding school. Like Ken Shultz.

        1. The sailors too, obviously. Why that’s 1/3 of the Royal Navy’s core values.

          1. You mean rum? I hear you make a mean Mojito, Hugh.

            1. I don’t always drink, Epi. But when I do, I like to get gay-drunk.

              1. (slides Hugh a piece of paper with “The White Swallow, 9PM” written on it)

          2. Ken Schultz doesn’t suck sailors’ cocks. The River Monster does.

            1. No, no, the River Monster is the Dean of Students’ cock, and that’s why they worshiped it. You have to learn how to parse these code phrases, Warty.

              1. Your homophobia is appalling.

  4. Look at it this way: with a smaller military, there’s no way the Brits will be able to retake the colonies.

    1. Barbados is relieved.

  5. Ah, whatever. The brits go round in a “War!/Anti-War!” cycle every 20 years or so. in about a decade, the Argies will start getting restless again and the Brits will start frothing for the chance of kicking some ass to feel better about themselves.

    1. Exactly. The Brits like to downgrade their military occasionally, and then they get antsy and want to be back as one of the top militaries in the world again.

      1. Especially when Argentia mistakes these cuts too and re-invades the Falklands.

  6. Goodbye to the Falklands…unless GB wants to threaten Argentina with nuclear strikes from its few submarines.

    1. If Argentina could afford a military, you would be correct. Luckily the Peronists have destroyed their ability to buy even obsolete equipment.

      1. Won’t stop them.

        1. It’s a long swim, that will certainly slow them down.

          1. If there are any fisherfolk left in Argentina, they’ll simply seize some boats.

            1. They would have to.

              The notes on their ships are pretty funny.

              The Brits aren’t heavy down there, but they are serious.

              1. Lol, 3 subs, 13 frigates, 2 Fast Attack Craft, and 2 Amphibous Assault ships.

                Reasonably certain the Brits could cut their current navy in half and still handle that without really breaking a sweat.

                Especially since the locals on the Falklands still want to be Brits and not Argentinians (last I heard at least)

                1. Argentina’s military never really recovered from the Falklands War. They’ve only gotten weaker.

  7. “Of course, the British have fought with the U.S. in a number of military conflicts, most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given how those conflicts worked out, perhaps it would be better for the U.K. not “to be a full partner” with the U.S. in future conflicts.”

    If this is your take, then maybe you should drop all pretense when analyzing and writing about…every conflict.

    If it doesn’t matter what the conflict is, you’re against joining so long as it’s on the side of the United States, then isn’t analyzing the factions, their motives, the situation, etc. of whatever conflict just a pointless exercise?

  8. Are these numbers going to change if the Scots vote for independence?

    I am kind of shocked at how small their Reserve forces are. I think at least half your total forces should be reservists if you are trying to spend your military budget effectively.

    1. Not shocking when you consider the sort of guy who’s in the TA.

    2. Are these numbers going to change if the Scots vote for independence?

      How the Scots vote is going to be interesting. If the vote is for complete independence, the main fallout will be in the Royal Navy. The RAF & British Army has facilities in Scotland, but the Scottish Regiments are already hollow with the Regiments that are left really just a single battalion. An RAF Leauchar (SP?) about the only RAF base north of the border of any consequence.

      The RN is different because of the expensive shore facilities. 100% of the RN Trident fleet is based on the River Clyde not far from Glasgow. On the other side of the island, Rosyth (SP?) is/was a significant surface ship facility. I guess if you don;t have any surface vessels, you don’t need any support facilities.

      I hope that the independence vote fails, as the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) is a group of unreformed Marxists with a nationalist veneer that make the Labour Party look like a bunch of capitalist. I lived in Scotland for 15 years and both of my kids are citizens of the UK. I’d hate to see Scotland become a European Detroit.

      The Conservative/Unionist Party in England would make out with Scottish independence and the Labour Party will be hurt. Right now, I don;t think there has been a Scottish MP since Thatcher’s second electron and the Scots are over-represented in the British Parliament. Since SNP MPs generally side with Labour, Labour in England is going to be hurt by Scottish Independence.

      1. If I was a Brit, I think I would be happy to let the Scots go build their workers’ paradise on their own dime.

  9. “4th largest”

    Meaningless. This doesn’t inform us at all whether Britain’s military is large enough. I don’t think it is or at least it won’t be after getting whittled away.

  10. The biggest problem IMHO is that the war in Afghanistan is the war our “allies” wasn’t tnot the one we did.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.