The commander of the US Army in Europe has warned Britain’s position as a leading member of NATO would be at risk if its armed forces “got any smaller”.
Speaking to the BBC Lt-Gen Ben Hodges explained Britain’s position as a key ally would come under fire as the UK... “can’t maintain and sustain the level of commitments its fufilling right now, then I think its risks kind of going into different sort of category.”
The strong warning comes as the Army, Navy and RAF have all been ordered to make cuts by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), to save £20 billion in efficiency savings.
This is said to be the hardest challenge facing new Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson.
So far, the British Army has already been slashed from 120,000 to just 82,000 regular troops.
Lt-Gen Hodges said: "I don't see how you could maintain those global commitments if you got any smaller.”
The top American General didn’t just condemn the cuts in general but expressed his concerns about specifics elements of potential cuts.
Responding to the reports that Britain’s amphibious capabilities could be sold to raise funds, Lt-Gen Hodges said: "I'd hate to lose that particular capability... Whenever you take something off the table unilaterally then you've just made the job a little simpler for a potential adversary."
Lt-Gen Hodges also went on to cherry-pick a few examples of defence staff that are irreplaceable in the face of cuts.
He said some of the best British officers he had served alongside had been Royal Marines, such as the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, Gordon Messenger. "I'd hate to see the institution that produces men like that degraded."
Interestingly most NATO countries have reversed recent defence cuts.
His message comes ahead of the new Defence Secretary’s first NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels today.
Gavin Williamson is expected to meet his American counterpart James Mattis for the first time.