Skip to main content

Top general: UK troops overstretched

  • Story Highlights
  • Head of UK Army says soldiers stretched by fighting commitments
  • Goodwill of soldiers, military families tested by "relentless pace of operations"
  • UK troops have been deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq for past six years
  • General Dannatt says army is undermanned, should be expanded
  • Next Article in World »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

LONDON, England (CNN) -- British soldiers have been "seriously stretched" by six years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the head of the British Army has warned.

Gen. Dannatt: "There is a very strong argument for our land forces to be larger."

Gen. Dannatt: "There is a very strong argument for our land forces to be larger."

In a speech in London, General Sir Richard Dannatt also warned that the army was undermanned and said that the goodwill of soldiers and their families had been undermined by the "relentless pace of operations."

"A gap of one year between operational deployment is not unusual and often soldiers are spending much of the year before a deployment away from home, in training and preparation. This is unacceptable," Dannatt told an audience at the Institute for Public Policy Research on Monday, the UK's Press Association reported.

"The Army should be about 102,000 soldiers. It is currently about 98,500. By definition we are undermanned. There is a very strong argument for the size of our land forces to be larger."

As part of plans to send troops away less frequently, Dannatt said he planned to reorganize the army's current 10 fighting brigades of 4,000 soldiers into six larger units.

He also criticized delays in the development of a new army armored vehicle, saying that many of the vehicles used by soldiers "harked back to the '60s and '70s."

Dannatt, who is due to step down later this year, has been an unusually outspoken Chief of the General Staff since his appointment in 2006.

In October 2006 he called for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq, warning that their presence in the country was exacerbating security problems there.

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print