Britain’s armed forces are ‘not good enough’ to deal with the global Islamist terror threat, the former head of the military Lord Richards said tonight.
In his maiden speech in the House of Lords the new peer questioned if the military was in a ‘fit state’ to protect our ‘way of life’ from extremists.
Lord Richards – who as General Sir David Richards was chief of the defence staff for just under three years from October 2010 – said that the ‘biggest threat confronting the free world today is that posed in my judgement by militant jihadism’.
Former head of the military, Lord Richards – formerly General Sir David Richards – warned peers that Britain’s armed forces may not be ‘good enough’ to tackle Islamic extremism
But he said: ‘Are our armed forces in a fit state to play their role in dealing with these and other risks to our way of life?
‘Well, my Lords, the answer must be that it is not good enough but it is some consolation that it is better than any other allied nation except the United States.’
He warned that it was not just Iraq and Syria that were threatened by Islamic terrorists.
He said: ‘All states are equally vulnerable, including many great Muslim nations.
Lord Richards used his maiden speech in the House of Lords to call for increase defence spending
‘Rather than bickering, states should cohere to confront this threat through the adoption of a multi-dimensional strategy in which all can play a constructive part.
‘This struggle will be generational and our leaders must stop seeking short term tactical solutions.’
Lord Richards called for defence spending to be increased as the economy improves.
He said: ‘As the economy grows, routine defence spending post 2015 must increase, as a minimum, to 2 per cent of GDP.
‘If not, given the mathematics that seems stubbornly to govern defence expenditure, the size and effectiveness of the armed forces will inevitably deteriorate.’
Lord Richards also warned about the plans to replace thousands of regular soliders with part-time reservists.
He said that the brave experiment over the Army Reserve must either soon be proved to work or a new solution found.
‘Any additional money spent on this must not be taken from other programmes, merely robbing Peter to pay Paul.’