With reference to the integrated review 2021, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies on force structure in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The integrated review explained that Defence’s forces must prepare for the most persistent global engagement and constant campaigning to counter emerging threats. We are continuing to monitor the situation in Ukraine to ensure that we remain threat-led and, in line with the agile planning and delivery mechanisms developed following the IR, we will continue to review our capabilities and readiness levels accordingly.
Last week, NATO nations committed force deployments to four member states in eastern Europe to help to demonstrate resolve to Russia at this dangerous time. Does my hon. Friend not agree that now is not the time to reduce the force strength of the British Army by 9,500 regular soldiers, and that this aspect of the conclusions of the integrated review should be at the very least deferred and at best reversed?
My right hon. Friend is an expert in the field. I acknowledge that this issue will be keenly debated and that he has a strong view on it. My own view is that this is the right time to accelerate the acquisition of the lethality that has been missing from the field Army for too long. We are outranged on our artillery, we lack the land precision fires that are now essential and, if I had to choose—and I think that the Ministry of Defence has had to choose—I would choose to have a land force that has been modernised and made relevant to the modern battle again, rather than necessarily standing behind larger numbers.