Britain’s top military chief has warned that the UK faces ending up with a “hollow force” if politicians keep prioritising equipment over manpower.
The term refers to having the hardware, but not the men to use it. General Sir Nick Houghton, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said while the budget for the forces’ equipment was guaranteed by ministers, manpower was increasingly seen as an overhead.
In a speech yesterday to the Royal United Services Institute, he said that activity and training levels were being squeezed, and singled out the Royal Navy as having shrunk to a “critical mass”. He warned: “Our current course leads to a strategically incoherent force structure – exquisite equipment, but insufficient resources to man that equipment or train.”
The head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, issued a statement acknowledging his service was under “significant manpower pressure”.