Britain is a 'first class player': David Cameron responds to ex-US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' claim that UK military cuts could mean 'no US partnership'
The Former US secretary said a reduction in personnel would damage the UK's ability to be a partner with America
Prime Minister David Cameron has called the UK a “first-class player” in defence, after former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said military cuts had left the UK diminished on the world stage.
A reduction in staff in the Armed Forces would mean the UK would no longer have the “ability” to be a full military partner to the United States, Mr Gates said on Thursday.
Mr Gates told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that planned Government cuts to the Armed Forces would limit the UK’s global position.
The Prime Minister insisted that the UK's defence budget remained the fourth largest globally and more investment was being made to enhance its future capabilities.
During a visit to the Crossrail project in central London, Mr Cameron said: "I don't agree with him. I think he has got it wrong.
"We have the fourth largest defence budget anywhere in the world. We are investing in future capabilities.
"We are a first-class player in terms of defence and as long as I am Prime Minster that is the way it will stay," Mr Cameron said.
The Army is to be cut from 102,000 to 82,000 personnel by 2020. The number of staff in the Royal Navy will fall by 6,000, while the RAF will lose 5,000 service personnel.
Mr Gates, who served under Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush, told the news programme that naval cuts in particular would be the most damaging.
He added that for the first time since the First World War Britain does not have an operational aircraft carrier.
In reference to UK’s ability to fight on land, sea or air, he said: "With the fairly substantial reductions in defence spending in Great Britain, what we're finding is that it won't have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past."
His concerns come after the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, said that military manpower was increasingly seen as an “overhead” and that Britain was in danger of being left with hollowed out armed forces. He added that the UK’s “exquisite” equipment would be left without soldiers, sailors, and airmen to use it.
He told the Royal United Services Institute military think-tank that the Royal Navy was "perilously close" to its "critical mass" in terms of manpower.
In 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron stressed that the UK retained a “pretty full spectrum capability” after the three service chiefs warned its reach would be lessened.
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Malaysia Airlines: Search for true identity of passengers with stolen passports launched as terrorism concern grows
Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Dear 'The Sun', breast cancer isn't sexy
- 4 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 5 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...