UK military chief fails to rule out further armed forces cuts despite £5bn extra investment

The UK’s military chief did not rule out further cuts to the armed forces even as he welcomed an extra £5billion for defence over the next two years.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin also underlined the importance of a new pledge by the government to lift defence spending to 2.5% of national income from just over 2% - even though it did not come with a timeframe.

The Chief of the Defence Staff said if it is reached within 10 years it would equate to an extra £100bn.

However, asked if he could rule out more cuts to the military, Admiral Radakin said: "I think what we're seeing is additional investment. And… we might decide that we really want to focus on some particular capabilities. And inevitably, you might pare back in some other areas, but this is about continued investment in UK defence."

The army is already facing plans to shrink by a further 3,000 soldiers to 73,000 despite a land war raging in Ukraine. This reduction can only credibly be reversed with more money.

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The comments came a day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak released an updated review of defence, security and foreign policy.

It contained the uplift in the defence budget and the aspiration to lift the spending target.

"So this is really significant," Admiral Radakin said.

"It builds on the previous investment that the government made in 2020-2021. It builds on the recognition that we need to adjust to face the state threats that we're now seeing."

However, a majority of the additional cash - £3bn - is due to be spent on long-term plans to modernise the UK's nuclear-armed and nuclear-powered submarines and the wider nuclear enterprise, which includes nuclear weapons.

Much of the remainder - £1.9bn - will be spent on replenishing and growing stockpiles of ammunition, emptied by the UK giving many of its weapons to Ukraine.

The military chief, a former head of the Royal Navy, defended the allocation of funds and said the money would be merged with investments that are already being made.

"Our investment in equipment and support over the next 10 years is over £240bn. These are enormous sums of money."

He said an updated blueprint on the future shape of the armed forces - the Defence Command Paper - would set out more details when it is published in June.