by Aris Roussinos
Tuesday, 28
June 2022
News
13:15

Top general: Britain must prepare for war

Sir Patrick Sanders says we face 'a 1937 moment'
by Aris Roussinos
Get this man some more tanks.

The war in Ukraine is not a brief and bloody spat in a faraway country of which we know little. Instead, as the new Chief of General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders warned in a historic speech at RUSI today, “This is our 1937 moment,” as “we are living through a period in history as profound as the one that our forebears did over 80 years ago.”

The harsh reality is that “the visceral nature of a European land war is not just some manifestation of distant storm clouds on the horizon; we can see it now”.

As a result of major state-on-state conflict on our home continent, at a scale vastly beyond our current capacity to sustain, including artillery battles with “ammunition expenditure rates that would exhaust the combined stockpiles of several Nato countries in a matter of days”, Britain therefore has no choice but to rearm: “Mobilisation is now the main effort.”

As it stands, our Army is simply too small to confront Russia. As Sanders warns, “if this battle came, we would likely be outnumbered at the point of attack and fighting like hell”. The decades of cutbacks that have diminished our land forces must end, now: “it would be perverse if the CGS was advocating reducing the size of the Army as a land war rages in Europe and Putin’s territorial ambitions extend into the rest of the decade, and beyond Ukraine.”

Similarly, so much of the Whitehall commonsense of the past few decades must be discarded as unfit for the present threat: the excessive focus on cyber capabilities founders on the hard truth that “Land will still be the decisive domain… to put it bluntly, you can’t cyber your way across a river.”

The Army’s Just In Time system of vehicle fleet management, once heralded as the means to greater efficiency, is similarly exposed as unfit for wars of sheer mass, in which materiel is deployed and swiftly destroyed on an industrial scale. “Having seen its limitations first-hand as the Commander of the Field Army”, Sanders notes, “I think we need to ask ourselves whether Whole Fleet Management is the right model given the scale of the threat we face.” Instead, we must “re-build our stockpiles and review the deployability of our vehicle fleet”.

This isn’t an easy task: our industrial capacity must be ramped up immediately to meet the demands of modern high intensity warfare: “We can’t be lighting the factory furnaces across the nation on the eve of war; this effort must start now if we want to prevent war from happening”.

Similarly, our donation of munitions to Ukraine was necessary, and the Ukrainians are grateful for it, but it’s left us with a huge gap to fill now that war is on our doorstep, with Sanders warning of the urgent need to replenish “our own diminished stockpiles as a result of Gifting in Kind to the brave soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine”. Generosity that leaves us weaker is no help to anyone: every munition, every vehicle donated to Ukraine must be replaced many times over if Britain is to see itself through the coming decades.

And like Macron, and the more serious American strategic thinkers, Sanders warns that this is Europe’s war: “Given the commitments of the US in Asia during the Twenties and Thirties, I believe that the burden for conventional deterrence in Europe will fall increasingly to European members of Nato.”

American military aid is necessary now, but in the medium term it will be Europe’s job to safeguard Europe’s own security: the Americans will soon be distracted by their own great confrontation in the Pacific, and we must rely on ourselves to meet the great challenge ahead. As Sanders warns, “It will be hard work — a generational effort,” but “this is our moment. Seize it.” The warnings, and the advice, cannot be clearer: now it’s the government’s turn to show that it can meet the challenge of the troubled years rushing towards all of us.

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polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago

Top general: Britain must prepare for war
It is always a good idea to prepare for war well before you enter into hostilities.
It is an even better idea to have some idea about what you are fighting for.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I was wondering about that last bit

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Isn’t it obvious? The West is fighting to retain an exclusive monopoly on the right to invade other nations for no reason, destroy their countries and civilian infrastructure and murder hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
1 month ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Are you a UK citizen? If so, emigrate.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

It was a perfectly fair point

Marianne Vigreux
Marianne Vigreux
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Heavens! isnt it even better to do all you can to prevent it, and try to resolve the conflicts another way?!

Pete Williams
Pete Williams
1 month ago

“Instead, as the new Chief of General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders warned in a historic speech at RUSI today, “

Can a speech be described as historic if it only happened today?

Last edited 1 month ago by Pete Williams
Kevin Jones
Kevin Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete Williams

No

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
1 month ago
Reply to  Pete Williams

Prescient.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 month ago

“The warnings, and the advice, cannot be clearer: now it’s the government’s turn to show that it can meet the challenge of the troubled years rushing towards all of us”.
If it is now up to the UK (or any other European) government or the EU institutions to meet this kind of challenge then I do not have very optimistic feelings. Macron might be on the money in what he’s thinking but he’s got his hands full with matters in his own country right now. The EU is still a geopolitical pygmie and in the face of this crisis has set itself up for yet more intractable problems by giving Ukraine candidate status (so much strategic idiocy, so little time).
Heaven help us.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The EU is indeed a geopolitical pygmy. I can support giving all humanitarian assistance to The Ukrainians-weapons too, if that is what they ask us for, but I am far from convinced that we should be planning to enter into a conflict with Russia as an ally of a dysfunctional pygmy non-state. To put it brutally: Where exactly is our national interest in this? I am not pro-Russian, I am just not very keen on wars.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Me too! Why have we diminished our own military and our armaments been sent to Ukraine on this scale if we can’t afford to replace them promptly for our own defence? The EU countries are the neighbours of Russia and Ukraine yet many have dodged paying the full amount into NATO commitments. Most of us would not now be willing to sacrifice ourselves on their behalf as happened in WW2.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

You could argue that by arming Ukraine, while it may leave us temporarily weaker, keeps the front line much further away from our shores then if we stockpiled weapons and allowed Ukraine to fall. It also outsources much of the actual fighting and potentially saves casualties to our diminished armed forces

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Spot on. Why fight directly when you can rely on proxies to weaken your enemy. Ukraine is a great investment for the future of U.K. – at great mortal cost to them.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Hardly anyone is keen on war, but it has been the defining characteristic of humanity since time began. I believe we are still human, therefore, wars will continue.

Ruud van Man
Ruud van Man
1 month ago

I fully agree that our armed forces should be expanded dramatically. Furthermore, I believe we should return to the days when many more young men and women do apprenticeships or (useful) degrees whilst in the military ready for a civilian career should they decide to leave the service after a few years. Military service is character-building and we could have access to an enlarged pool of reservists in time of need.

Mike Doyle
Mike Doyle
1 month ago

Rusia was once thought to be capable of taking the entire of Central Europe in under a week. We now find that three months after it attacked Ukraine it cannot even fight its was through one, modestly eqipped, Eastern European state. Russia is a paper tiger.
I believe that there are excellent reasons for increasing our expenditure on defence, but Russia’s military capacity / effectiveness is not one of them.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

You might note that the paper tiger possesses one of the largest collection of thermonuclear weapons with the capability to deliver them, along with a world view antithetical to the west. I think it far better to confront the beast early rather than feed it.

Duncan MacInnes
Duncan MacInnes
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

Err, how is it’s worldview antithetical to the West? Communism is long dead, their oligarchs are equivalent to our capitalists. Their motivation is driven by the NATO threat. But do they really want to invade UK? I think not.

Paul K
Paul K
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

So, your argument is that we should ‘confront’ a nation with a massive haul of nuclear weapons, which you apparently believe it would be ready to use on us. What sort of ‘confrontation’ did you have in mind?

Last edited 1 month ago by Paul K
Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Doyle

The attackar must, as a rule of thumb, bring 3-5x the force to bear that the defender can muster. The defender can stand in place, use the lay of the land, etc. This was why Germany attacking Russia in WWII was so foolish, as it was attacking a country with 2x it’s population.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Germany was also woefully prepared for attacking such a cold climate, and couldn’t commit its forces in enough numbers due to Britain not being under control and having to keep two fronts open. Their leaders impatience in trying to do both at once probably cost them the war in the long run

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago

The General needs to be far more concerned at the abominable wokery that this goverment is imposing on Army training, and the appalling job that Capita is doing with recruitment: Potential Officers are having to wait months to do their Commissions Board tests, and Capita and The Goverment are deliberately trying to ” egalitarianise” Officer Recruitment, especially for The Household Division, by sequestering the initial process.

R Wright
R Wright
1 month ago

Due to fifty years of our civil servants doing nothing more than ‘managing decline’ we have armed forces that are merely adjunct to those of the U.S. It is now far too late for this to be redressed.

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  R Wright

It’s never too late. It is a matter of will. That’s all that is lacking. It will be hard to turn around. But it is not impossible.
But I do worry that we might be on the last generation of top-class military officers and that we are slipping below critical mass. The current recruitment campaigns seem to be targetting precisely the wrong sort of people you need in the military.
I’d start by firing 20% of the MoD civil servants. Repeat until productivity improves. Put the money saved directly into the armed forces and not civil service overhead.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

Agreed. Motivation is the key ingredient, but until the masses witness the horrors of war on the tube, or in their own towns, or summoned by a Churchill-like leader, it will be difficult to muster them.

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 month ago

Yes, yes and yes!

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago

Personally I would prefer to see the establishment of a trained Order of Assassins tasked with taking out those leaders of countries that pursue an armed expansionist foreign policy such as Putin and those actively supporting him. Why kill those acting under orders when you can kill the real aggressor. It might make our own leaders more vulnerable just as Zelinski faced potential assassination during the early part of Russia’s invasion but it would make the rest of us safer.

Kevin Dee
Kevin Dee
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The weapons industry votes no to that plan.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Kevin Dee

The fly in the ointment. Of course leaders who risk being assassinated would be against it too. Hence its rarity in history.

Paul O
Paul O
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

So if we attack other countries such as Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan (to name just a few) is it okay for a third country such as China or India (for example) to assassinate our leaders?

Or are the USA, UK and NATO allowed to use shock and awe tactics on whichever regime we take a dislike to?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul O

The answer to that is clearly yes. If we believe Sadat Hussain is planning to develop weapons of mass destruction to attack other countries assassinate him don’t invade his country and kill his compatriots. We have to take the risk of counter assassination.

Iris C
Iris C
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The USA (and, indeed, the UK under Blair) did not have the authority of the UN to invade Iraq but they invaded regardless, One of the atrocities of that war was the bombing of a civilian shelter and killing 200 women and children.
This was one of the atrocities told in an excellent WorldService documentary this morning (29/6/22) in which journalists and photo-journalists, who had covered many wars. gave a vivid account of the suffering endured by ordinary citizens and ill-equipped soldiers when western army generals and politicians whip-up support for invasions.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Iris C

So can I presume you favour the Order of Assassins as a rational alternative to warfare – not many others seem to.

Iris C
Iris C
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I believe in diplomacy. I would only support military action if me or mine were threatened.
The Charter of the UN made it illegal to invade a sovereign state. This was a primary aim of the Charter because the League of Nations (set up after WW!) failed dismally to protect small countries by the dominant.
The invasion of Iraq (illegal) started the precedent for such invasions.
In order to make this and other invasions (Lebanon and Syria) legal Article 2 of the Charter was altered (in retrospect) and now intimates that “if a sovereign state is not willing or in a position to protect its own citizens” then military action could be taken. However the decision to invade has been taken by the USA for political reasons and not by the majority of people within the sovereign state.
Naturally, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is to be condemned but it is hypocrisy on the part of American-led NATO to make this a unique violation of sovereign rights.. .

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul O

Please tell us the last time the U.S. or GB “attacked” another sovereign land with the intention of incorporating it during the last century? Please stop comparing apples with lemons.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

But they would have taken out Blair and Bush

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago

Very replaceable.

M. M.
M. M.
1 month ago

Aris Roussinos wrote, “American military aid is necessary now, but in the medium term it will be Europe’s job to safeguard Europe’s own security: the Americans will soon be distracted by their own great confrontation in the Pacific, and we must rely on ourselves to meet the great challenge ahead.”

Outsourcing the military defense of Europe is an error in judgment. Outsourcing the military defense to the United States is an even greater error in judgment. By 2040, the United States will cease being a Western nation and will become a Hispanic nation due to its open borders. Hispanic culture will dominate, and Western culture will be rejected by a majority of Americans.

Boris Johnson should work with Emmanuel Macron to establish a European security architecture that is independent of both the United States and its extension known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Johnson should also share his plans with Marine Le Pen. The latter is a strong advocate of Western culture.

Collaboration among the British, the Germans, and the French on developing the next generation of weapons would be helpful. This collaboration must specifically exclude the Americans.

Get more info about this issue.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
1 month ago
Reply to  M. M.

Here we go again, shoehorning in your page about Hispanics in America in an article about land wars in Europe

Peter B
Peter B
1 month ago
Reply to  M. M.

So NATO hasn’t worked for the last 70 years ?
I know who I trust to work with on defence matters. For all their faults, I’d rather be allied with the US than France or Germany. They are much closer to the UK in their “gut reaction” and instincts and also act quickly and decisively.And they don’t like appeasement.
If you knew anything about the defence equipment industry, you would know how much collaboration and cross-ownership there is between the UK and US – and how well this works.
This Hispanic stuff is just nonsense.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter B

The French are good and professional soldiers…as for the rest of the Nato armies, bar a few former Warsaw Pact countries… useless.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago

LOL. That provided a smile this morning.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 month ago
Reply to  M. M.

And Europe will be Muslim, so no worries.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  M. M.

You talkee the big silly, yes?

Andrew Martin
Andrew Martin
1 month ago

General Boris Johnson says we must continue to cut our Army numbers and rely on his hot air to repel the Russians. As he is out of the Country more than he is in it he’ll be safe

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Martin

O, please twitter your comment lol – don’t keep it within the rarified confines of unHerd.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

General lobbies for more resources.
People think that’s news?

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
1 month ago

Roussinos is emerging as one of the few “adults in the room”. Look at Donbas. An artillery war. It’s about range. About mass. About war stocks. About endurance. About the industrial ability to sustain attrition. It’s obvious. But not to our politicians . A generation ago I was in the front line. Now it’s the next generation. Never has the Roman dictum “if you want peace, prepare for war” been more apposite.

Andy E
Andy E
1 month ago

Our dear Tabaqui. What a war the GB Army can win nowadays without sitting on the shoulders of Big Cousin? Don’t fool yourselves. The guys in flip-flops have just made you squeak and run (along with the cousins BTW).
Britts pretend to have some kind of their own policy but in fact we surely know where the call is coming from. It’s fine to pretend that “our policies completely coincide” but you need to remember that someday you might be brutally left to pick up the check.
In such a storm you have to be on the right side and in the current scenario I would not be placing bets on GB stuffing Ukraine with weapons to kill as many Russians as possible. If Putin wins the hot war, when he wins also the energy war (and he will because he owns the f***ng resources), when he (potentially) wins the food war, there will be a nasty afterparty.
How about if captured British weapons would eventually end up in Belfast? Just a matter of time. Send more, fools.