British forces no longer fit for purpose, former UK service chiefs warn


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Former UK service chiefs have launched a devastating critique of the state of British forces, saying they were no longer fit for purpose and that the army was 20 years out of date.

Gen Sir Richard Barrons, who retired last year as commander of joint forces command, said the armed forces were close to breaking point, with the navy underfunded and the air force at the edge of its engineering capacity.

Barrons, speaking alongside counterparts from the navy and air force, was giving evidence to a House of Commons defence committee investigation into the latest defence review, which is scheduled to announce its findings next month and which will almost certainly mean more cuts.

Although the defence budget is £38bn a year and the Treasury has promised above-inflation annual rises, the Ministry of Defence has been hit hard by a sharp rise in the cost of US planes and other equipment. The army has already fallen in size and the navy has many fewer surface ships.

The review presents an early headache for the new defence secretary, Gavin Williamson.

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