Cuts Watch #389: smallest army since the 1820s
The Sunday Telegraph reports that Prime Minister and Chancellor are giving some thought to the future of the army once it has withdrawn from Afghanistan (due in 2015). Their aim is to cut the army’s strength by 20 per cent – at 80,000, it would then be the smallest British army since the reign of George IV.
As I have mentioned before, leaking stories to the Telegraph is the defence establishment’s favourite way of fighting battles within the cabinet – there’s a guaranteed Tory audience, bound to take exception – so there is no guarantee that this is going to happen. Last year’s reports included a lot of scares: the Ghurkhas and the SAS are still in existence; on the other hand, the Telegraph was actually quite a good source for the cuts that did take place – the Harriers were scrapped and so were the Nimrods. It will be interesting if a Conservative-led government does succeed in imposing deeper defence cuts than any Labour administration has ever made.