Decisions to cut defence spending in 2010 were based on the assumption of a “reasonably benign security environment”, the former head of the Army has said.
In an article for the Daily Telegraph, General Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff until last year, said the UK’s reaction to aggression from Russia reflected a shortage of capacity stemming from the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
“It was acknowledged that we would have less capability in an unexpected crisis than we would wish, and our political choices would be constrained,” he said.
"We can now see those consequences playing out in our reticence to counter Russian expansionism, and her interference in our airspace and offshore waters."
Sir Peter also called for the UK to meet the Nato target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, saying the West had been “caught napping” by recent developments.
His message has been backed up by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, who said yesterday that falling defence spending in European nations was "not only unsustainable, it is dangerous".
A joint committee of MPs and peers last week warned that that the next iteration of the National Security Strategy - which feeds into the SDSR - would require a "thorough revisit" in the face of changing international threats, and expressed concern that it was "likely to be prepared too quickly".