Continuing with the theme that the UK is not regarded as a first tier military nation any more in some circles, retired British army General Sir Richard Barrons has caused a bit of a fuss by saying the UK doesn’t hold sufficient ammunition stocks to fight a conventional war in Europe. In fact, his exact words were that Britain would run out of shells after a day if it had to fight Russia.
The expenditure of all types of materiel, particularly artillery shells, has been enormous in Ukraine. It has been estimated that the UkrAF have been using, on average, about 6-7,000 artillery round per day over the past eleven months, with the Russians probably even more. Seven thousand rounds equates to what US manufacturers can produce in a fortnight, so it’s little wonder that the cupboard is almost bare.
To add insult to injury, it now appears that the UK has pledged more or less all of its operational AS-90 self-propelled howitzers, leaving the British army seriously exposed should it have to embark on operations before those donated can be replaced. And nobody seems to know what will replace them, or when.
As I have written before, it’s a potential disaster of the UK’s own making, with terrible decision making in Britain’s military and in the government clearly to blame. All the sacred cows are now coming home to roost, if you’ll allow me to mix metaphors, and we are collectively up the creek without a paddle.
Only as serious and immediate uptick in defence spending can sort this fiasco out, and there’s no time to lose. We need to forget national pride and buy whatever is available and good enough to equip our boys and girls so they can do their jobs properly. There’s plenty out there to choose from, but time and tide waits for no man, or woman.
But I don’t think Sunak and Wallace are the people to grasp the nettle. We can only hope for a General Election this year.
Lt Col Stuart Crawford’s latest book Tank Commander (Hardback) is available now