British Government May Cut Army by 20,000, Axe Royal Marine Brigade

Army ‘to Be Cut By 20,000’ if No 10 Plan Is Approved (excerpt)

(Source: The Sunday Times; published July 05, 2020)

[British] Defence chiefs have drawn up plans to slash the army by a quarter and reduce the Royal Marines to a bit part as part of Boris Johnson’s defence and security review.

The drastic cuts, which would also close airfields and take helicopters out of service, were drawn up in response to Treasury demands that Whitehall departments map out cuts of 5% or more as part of the government’s comprehensive spending review.

In the worst-case scenario:

-- Army manpower would fall from 74,000 to 55,000

-- The Royal Marines commando brigade would be disbanded, losing its artillery, engineers and landing craft. Royal Navy minesweepers would also face the axe.

-- The RAF would shut several airbases and shed its fleet of Hercules transport planes and small Puma helicopters.

Threatened cuts to key capabilities that then do not materialise are known as “shroud-waving” in Whitehall, where they are a common feature of defence reviews.

But this time security sources say that Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s senior aide, is attracted to the proposal to slash the size of the army and pump money into cyber-warfare, space and artificial intelligence.

Cummings has already flexed his security muscles, driving through a plan to spend £400m buying a 45% share of bankrupt satellite company OneWeb last week. John Bew, who is supposed to be running the security review in No 10 did not even know about that plan. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Sunday Times website.


Response to Sunday Times Claims: 5 July 2020

(Source: UK Prime Minister’s media blog; posted July 5, 2020)

Once again, a series of inaccurate claims have been made in the Sunday Times this week.

-- Claim: In an article about the Ministry of Defence, it is claimed [PM’s foreign policy special advisor] John Bew ‘did not even know about’ the OneWeb plan.

Reality: John Bew was fully involved in the discussions and present at meetings on OneWeb.

-- Claim: Dominic Cummings held a “getting-to-know-you” exercise with the service chiefs last month, when sources say the “personal chemistry” was “a disaster”.

General Sir Patrick Sanders, who as Commander of Strategic Command is in charge of all the MoD’s special forces and intelligence units, “boasted” about his work on cyber-warfare but a source present said Cummings “shot him down in flames” leaving Sanders “humiliated”.

Reality: Dominic Cummings did not meet service chiefs last month, and this entire account is false.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: It is worthy of note that the Prime Minister’s response focuses on minor details of the Sunday Times report, and does not deny its substance, and significantly not the new cuts being considered.)


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