The British Army would be out of action in “just two months” if it went to war with Russia, MPs have been warned.
The Commons defence committee warned that the UK’s ability to fight an all-out war would be significantly impacted by a recruitment crisis, stockpile shortages and the armed forces’ capability.
It was told the “hollowing out” of the armed forces since 2010 had undermined the UK’s war-fighting resilience with its capabilities likely to have been exhausted “after the first couple of months” of war against another country.
Chair of the committee Jeremy Quin said the UK was “unable to devote sufficient training and resources to high-intensity war fighting” due to operations and continuing commitments.
He said: “While able to deploy at short notice and to fulfil commitments, our inquiry found that readiness for all-out, prolonged war has received insufficient attention and needs intense ongoing focus.
“The high tempo of operations and unrelenting pressure on our services has led to a drop in retention, compounded by a period of low recruitment and difficulties introducing and maintaining capabilities, thereby creating a vicious cycle.”
The army recruitment crisis was said to have been exacerbated by “unrelenting pressure” on personnel as more leave the forces than join them.
In a report the committee said the military needed to be “strategic about the resources we have, including how to maintain and replenish stockpiles” ensuring equipment was not wasted.