Ministers’ demands unrealistic, warns army chief

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THE head of the Armed Forces has warned he is not able to do everything ministers would like in the wake of the government’s defence cuts.

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards said ministers’ demands had not been revised to correspond with the reduced size of the Armed Forces.

“We have a whole load of tasks expected of us,” he said in an Oxford University lecture.

“Our political masters are quite happy to reduce the size of the Armed Forces, but their appetite to exercise influence on the world stage is, quite understandably, the same as it has always been.

“Often politicians say to me, ‘can you go and do this?’ I say to them, ‘with what?’.”

His comments will fuel concerns that the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which heralded an 8 per cent cut in real-terms funding and reductions in manpower totalling 30,000 personnel, has significantly curbed Britain’s ability to project influence in the world.

He added: “If you reduce your Armed Forces, something gives.”