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As the U.K. comes to grips with the cuts called for by the Strategic Defense and Security Review, and works towards buildings its force 2020, questions are emerging about the relative size of the army.“In 2015, at present plans, the ground force element will be 65% of armed services,” higher than the U.S. and more like European continental forces, notes Michael Clarke, director of the Royal United Services Institute. Owing to operations in Afghanistan “we are ground force heavy,” he points out.But with the U.K. looking to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan by 2015 – potentially earlier – there is a debate starting whether the force mix needs to change afterward. In 2015 “we will look like a continental ground power, when we are claiming to be an expeditionary power,” Clarke notes during a conference reflecting on the post-SDSR environment.Any adjustment would represent more force cuts.But Maj. Gen. Richard Barrons, assistant chief of the general staff, warns of shrinking the army. “The force has to be big enough to be effective with allies.” He notes that even a high quality force is of little use if it is too small.
ar99, Wellington, U.K.
Copyright © 2013, Aviation Week, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.