General Sir Richard Barrons warned the British Army does not have enough ammo stocks to enter the war against Russia, in a worrying analysis of the UK Defence.
Writing in The Sun, the former Joint Forces chief said years of cuts to Defence spendings have left stocks almost bare.
The General added that the British Army would need at least £3billion more a year to rejoin NATO’s top tier nations on defence spending.
The warning comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Thursday that defence spending could need to increase for decades as the UK faces an increasingly dangerous world.
The Defence Secretary said a “growing proportion” of government spending would need to go towards keeping the country safe.
Mr Wallace has been holding talks with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt ahead of March’s Budget to discuss short-term pressures such as the rise in inflation.
Speaking in Portsmouth following a meeting with Australian counterparts, Mr Wallace said there was “plenty of water to go under the bridge” before the Budget.
“Of course, I look in the short term for funding to mitigate the impact of things like inflation, I have a very big capital budget, and that will form part of negotiations with the Treasury,” he said.
But of more importance was a longer-term recognition of the need to fund defence.
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“There’s a recognition that as the world gets more dangerous, unstable, defence should continue to get a growing proportion of spend, we can then debate how much that proportion should be,” he said.
“But my point is the direction of travel is: the world is more dangerous and unstable, and likely to remain so for a decade or two.
“And I think that’s just about changing that perception.
“The Chancellor was kind enough to grant that, he said that in his statement in autumn, I think that’s more important than, necessarily, the next two years, the here and now dealing with things that other departments do, such as inflation.”
Dr Jack Watling of the military think tank Rusi said Ukraine has been using at least 6,000 shells a day.
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Britain would struggle to reach the same number as it relies on imported explosives for tank and artillery shells.
The UK’s ammo plants would also take a year to make a day’s shells for Ukraine, sources told The Sun.
The Ministry of Defence said it was boosting ammo stocks to “more than pre-invasion levels” with an extra £560 million from the Treasury.
They said: “Ammunition levels are highly classified.
“The war in Ukraine is an example of Soviet doctrine which uses vast quantities of artillery.
“We do not, nor ever have, used artillery in such methods, so to try and draw such conclusions is misleading.”