On the 19th of July DefenceSynergia wrote to The Right Honourable Rishi Sunak MP, The Right Honourable Penny Mordaunt MP, The Right Honourable Liz Truss MP and The Honourable Kemi Badenoch MP – the four remaining candidates for the position of Prime Minister – wishing them equally well but citing the challenge to United Kingdom (UK) Defence spending plans in a post-Russian invasion of Ukraine context. A version of that letter is reproduced below:
Dear Applicant for the position of Prime Minister,
DefenceSynergia (DS) notes the national discussion over UK Defence spending for Her Majesty’s Armed Forces with dismay. Despite the change in the geopolitical threat to this nation and her allies by a revanchist Russia, few in authority can bring themselves to admit that UK Defence spending must be increased and act to do so.
According to official UK Public Spending figures Defence spending just ahead of the fall of the Berlin Wall was circa 4 percent of GDP. You will know that the figure is now circa 2.2% of a potentially declining GDP!
The UK cannot fight a ground war with so few ‘boots on the ground’ and the lack of offensive and defensive Land, Air and Naval Power available. For the UK to play a serious international role it must spend money on defence at a greater rate than the inadequate 2.5% of GDP promised over the next 8 years.
Russian exhaustion in Ukraine is not guaranteed and China already aspires to outmatch the USA and is getting stronger and more belligerent.
The glaring anomalies in our defence posture are known to allies and enemies alike. DS notes that 2.5% of GDP over 8 years is risible compared to the departmental budgets of Welfare, NHS, Education and even Allies. You must adjust Spending Priorities irrespective of the political difficulties involved. Brief the public who remain blissfully ignorant and get them on your side. Cajole parliament to agree & commit to a long-term cross-party strategic plan to provide clear instruction to MOD.
DS understands that this is a big ask but our Armed Forces are not fit for purpose when measured against China and Russia, or when soberly analysed for strength, fleet size, equipment capabilities and depth of resources. The Order of Battle (ORBAT) is quite frankly based on a 2021 threat assessment that has been overtaken by events.
We are now in an era of greatly increased threat reminiscent of the late 1930s and the UK’s immediate and medium-term defence and security profile must be raised to match this and the Public informed of the reasons. They should be advised that you are tackling these blatant inadequacies by increasing the defence budget to match a programme of improvement in train across all of HM Armed Forces. This need not imply a lavish spending spree but a targeted steady increase to 4% against a practically achievable programme as recently envisaged by CGS and the MOD team.
A review of defence capabilities based on the emerging lessons of the Ukraine War would be wise. The UK’s Armed Forces personnel numbers are now severely restricted as to their lethality and ability to offer Concentration of Force – some call it critical mass – at any crucial point. For example, ask yourself if HM Armed Forces could accept a casualty rate of two hundred per day as the Ukrainians are having to do?
The size of all three services deserves serious review but an Army of 72,000, in view of the evidence before us in an active ground and air war, must be challenged.