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Ex-Nato chief warns Labour and the Conservatives that defence HAS to be a priority for whoever wins election

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A former Nato chief yesterday urged Labour and the Conservatives to agree a package of ’emergency treatment’ for the armed forces, as he warned the election campaign was ignoring the parlous state of Britain’s defences.

General Sir Richard Sherriff warned that defence was ‘not there as a top priority for either party’ despite the growing threat from Russia and other hostile states.

Sir Richard, Nato’s former deputy commander in Europe, said the armed forces had been ‘decimated’ in recent years to the extent that the Army would struggle to provide 5,000 troops for serious war fighting.

Rishi Sunak has sought to make defence an election issue, highlighting the fact that Sir Keir Starmer has failed to match his pledge to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030.

But Sir Richard said that even the PM’s spending target was ‘pretty derisory because it’s a long way off, 2030’.

General Sir Richard Sherriff warned that defence was ¿not there as a top priority for either party¿ despite the growing threat from Russia and other hostile states

General Sir Richard Sherriff warned that defence was ‘not there as a top priority for either party’ despite the growing threat from Russia and other hostile states

Sir Richard, Nato¿s former deputy commander in Europe, said the armed forces had been ¿decimated¿ in recent years to the extent that the Army would struggle to provide 5,000 troops for serious war fighting

Sir Richard, Nato’s former deputy commander in Europe, said the armed forces had been ‘decimated’ in recent years to the extent that the Army would struggle to provide 5,000 troops for serious war fighting

He told BBC radio Four’s Today programme: ‘We need to be looking at the state of the armed forces right now. Over the last decade plus we have seen the decimation of our military capability. We were once a pretty well-rounded organisation – we are not now.

‘It is a cross party issue that the armed forces need real emergency treatment.’

He told BBC radio Four¿s Today programme: ¿We need to be looking at the state of the armed forces right now'

He told BBC radio Four’s Today programme: ‘We need to be looking at the state of the armed forces right now’

Sir Richard said that troops in training were having to cope with shortages and vehicles and ammunition because donations to Ukraine had not been ‘topped up’.

And he said there had been a sharp decline in capability since 1997 when the Army was capable of generating a ‘war fighting’ division of 25,000 troops.

‘I don’t think the British Army could field a war fighting brigade of 5,000 now,’ he said. ‘Even that would be really difficult.’



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