Does Britain need a new model army?

NATO, Britain's defense strategy, Britain, New Model Army

In a recent publication by the NewBletchley Network, a powerful argument is made for a substantial overhaul in Britain’s defense strategy and funding. The report, spearheaded by esteemed figures including Lord (George) Robertson, former NATO Secretary General, and a consortium of military experts, asserts a fundamental truth often disregarded: genuine preparation for peace necessitates readiness for war. The crux of the report’s message? Britain needs a New Model Army, and it needs it now.

The weight of the report derives from the authority vested in its panelists, comprising former defense secretaries, national security advisors, and high-ranking military personnel. Addressed explicitly to future Prime Ministers and Defense Secretaries, the report emphasizes the imperative of top-level political commitment to enact the sweeping changes required.

Central to the report’s argument is the erosion of the British Army’s credibility over the past two decades, marked by dwindling resources, shrinking personnel, and fragile morale. Once regarded as a “Tier 1” force by NATO standards, the British Army’s readiness has diminished, posing a significant challenge to effective deterrence.

The proposed New Model Army must function as a vital component within a broader, integrated allied force across land, sea, air, cyber, and space domains. Key action priorities outlined in the report include reversing the hollowing out of regular and reserve forces and prioritizing the welfare and development of military personnel.

Moreover, the report underscores the evolving relationship between technology, innovation, and traditional military mass. While advancements like drones and AI offer new opportunities, the importance of mass in conflict remains undiminished. The New Model Army is envisioned not only as a force for national defense but also as a global leader in leveraging technology for strategic advantage.

Crucially, the report advocates for a holistic approach to readiness, emphasizing the need to overhaul reserves and industrial capacity to ensure scalable mobilization. Yet, successive governments have faltered in implementing such reforms, highlighting the urgency of decisive action.

The report concludes with a sobering reminder of the monumental task ahead. Implementing sweeping reforms akin to a COVID vaccine-style mobilization will demand unwavering commitment from political leaders and a concerted effort to address systemic issues within the defense establishment.

As Britain stands at a crossroads, the NewBletchley report serves as a clarion call for bold and decisive action. The question remains: will policymakers rise to the challenge, or will inertia and complacency jeopardize national security? The answer may well determine Britain’s readiness to navigate the uncertain geopolitical landscape of the 21st century.


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