British Army Chief Speech Gets A Lot Of Attention

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The British Army’s outgoing Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Patrick Sanders, has issued a stark warning that the UK must be prepared for a potential war with Russia. In a speech at the International Armoured Vehicles conference in London, Sir Patrick told the audience that the UK must urgently expand the size of its army to 120,000 within the next three years, up from its current numbers of 74,000.

The General’s warnings come on the heels of Defense Secretary Grant Shapps’ speech last week, in which he stated that the world is moving from a “post-war to a pre-war” state and that the UK must ensure its “entire defense ecosystem is ready” to defend its homeland. This is a sentiment echoed by Sir Patrick, who said that the UK must be prepared for the possibility of a war with Russia, as Moscow shows no signs of backing down in its efforts to “defeat our system and way of life”.

Sir Patrick also emphasized that increasing army numbers would not be enough, as the UK must also train and equip its citizens to fight in a potential conflict. He pointed to the current situation in Ukraine as an example of how regular armies start wars, but citizen armies ultimately win them. He stressed that the war in Ukraine is not simply about the sovereignty of the country, but about “defeating our system and way of life politically, psychologically, and symbolically”.

The outgoing army chief also warned that previous generations have “stumbled into the most ghastly of wars” because they failed to perceive the implications of escalating tensions, as was the case in 1914. He urged the UK not to make the same mistake and to be prepared for what is to come. Sir Patrick’s warnings come at a time when authoritarian states like Russia are rearming and taking advantage of the West’s reluctance to confront their aggressive actions.

Sir Patrick stated, “Our friends in eastern and northern Europe, who feel the proximity of the Russian threat more acutely, are already acting prudently, laying the foundations for national mobilization. As the chairman of the NATO military committee warned just last week, and as the Swedish government has done…taking preparatory steps to enable placing our societies on a war footing when needed are now not merely desirable but essential.”

Sir Patrick continued, “We will not be immune, and as the pre-war generation we must similarly prepare – and that is a whole-of-nation undertaking.”

Sir Patrick’s successor, General Sir Roly Walker, will take up the role of CGS in June, amid reports that he was being forced out in response to his outspoken comments. Former Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood, who has served alongside Sir Patrick, said that the warnings should be “listened to carefully”. He added that there is a “1939 feel to the world right now” and that the UK is “overstretched” and at risk of being unable to respond to potential aggressions.

Lord General Dannatt, a former military chief, has also expressed concerns about the “shrinking size” of the army. He drew parallels with the 1930s, when the “woeful” state of the UK’s armed forces failed to deter Adolf Hitler. He warned that there is a “serious danger of history repeating itself”. There have been calls for the UK to increase its defense budget to 3% of GDP, but Mr. Shapps stated that the government is not yet at the target of 2.5%.

Sir Patrick stated, “Ukrainian bravery is buying time, for now” – but the UK must be prepared for the worst. The threats posed by aggressive authoritarian states should not be taken lightly, and the government must make it a priority to sufficiently fund and support its armed forces.

Sky News