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The British army is ‘only big enough to lug around at home’ so needs decent funding, says Ben Wallace

Britain’s army is ‘only big enough to zip around at home’ so needs decent funding, says Defense Secretary Ben Wallace

  • The defense minister made the remarks this week during a visit to Oslo, Norway
  • He told the Times he was concerned about areas of Britain’s defenses being ‘very vulnerable’
  • The UK will soon have 72,500 soldiers, the lowest number in more than 200 years

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The British army is big enough if its sole purpose is to ‘stay home and mess around’, the British defense secretary warned.

Ben Wallace made the remarks this week during a visit to Oslo, Norway, adding that the country’s armed forces should be properly funded.

The government previously pledged to increase military spending to 3 percent of GDP, but new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has since said the defense budget will not increase until there is an update on the integrated foreign policy review.

It comes as the army will shed about 10,000 troops as part of cost-cutting plans approved by ministers last year.

The UK will soon have just 72,500 soldiers, the lowest since the Napoleonic Wars more than 200 years ago.

And speaking to the Times, Mr Wallace couldn’t guarantee that figure wouldn’t fall further.

He said: “I guarantee that I will design a force that fits the threat and the Prime Minister’s ambition.

“We get in trouble when governments promise things without backing them – they want to be everywhere…but they don’t fund it.”

The cabinet minister expressed concern that some parts of Britain’s defenses were “highly vulnerable”, while vowing to invest more in anti-aircraft capabilities.

Britain’s army is big enough if its sole purpose is to ‘stay home and mess around’, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace warned (pictured)

The government previously pledged to increase military spending to 3 percent of GDP, but new chancellor Jeremy Hunt (pictured) has since said the defense budget will not increase until there is an update on the integrated foreign policy review

The government previously pledged to increase military spending to 3 percent of GDP, but new chancellor Jeremy Hunt (pictured) has since said the defense budget will not increase until there is an update on the integrated foreign policy review

The government previously pledged to increase military spending to 3 percent of GDP, but new chancellor Jeremy Hunt (pictured) has since said the defense budget will not increase until there is an update on the integrated foreign policy review

Wallace said the size of the armed forces depends on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his administration’s foreign policy goals.

He added, “If we just want to stay home and poke around, we’ve got a big enough army.”

Referring to NATO, he said Britain also has an “international alliance of 30 people.”

Wallace was in Norway to meet Allied defense ministers on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

During the same trip, he announced that Britain will send helicopters to Ukraine for the first time since Russia’s invasion in February this year.

He said it will be the first time a piloted aircraft has been sent to the war-torn country since the start of the war.

The UK will send three Sea King helicopters to Ukraine, it was revealed this week.  One has already arrived in the country (file photo)

The UK will send three Sea King helicopters to Ukraine, it was revealed this week.  One has already arrived in the country (file photo)

The UK will send three Sea King helicopters to Ukraine, it was revealed this week. One has already arrived in the country (file photo)

Three former Sea King helicopters will be delivered, he said, the first of which had already arrived in Ukraine. The UK will also send another 10,000 artillery shells.

On a visit to Norway, Mr Wallace said: ‘Our support for Ukraine is unwavering.

“These additional artillery rounds will help Ukraine secure the land it has recaptured from Russia in recent weeks.”

The Royal Navy has been training for six weeks on Sea Kings in the UK for Ukraine’s armed forces and engineers, the Defense Ministry said.

The new aid follows a commitment to provide 1,000 surface-to-air missiles and 125 anti-aircraft guns.

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