Having had the honour to organise three CGS conferences for Lord Dannatt (2009), Lord Richards (2010) and Sir Peter Wall (2011) at a time when the British Army was highly respected around the world for its performance on combat operations, I understand the work that goes into these events. Having also conducted the equipment review that identified exactly when the money allocated by the government did not cover the planned activities to deliver the agreed capabilities (and still hold all the paperwork that this entailed), I know the inside story of the army’s decline from its peak.
This week’s conference for the new CGS was a complete sham as it was focused on the wrong capabilities to face Putin’s army. We have strayed too far from the fundamentals in our belief that information war, technology and security capabilities will somehow deter the Russian president. In the meantime our major combat equipment lags behind all our major competitors. It will take ten years to rebuild a half-decent armoured formation once all its equipment has arrived, but there is still no sign of the necessary fighting vehicles and training schedules. Challenger, Warrior, Scimitar and AS 90 are all 1980s technology (with a few upgrades) and need to be replaced rapidly, otherwise Putin will continue to laugh in the face of the political hogwash that will no doubt be heard at the NATO Summit in Madrid next week.