UK's Wallace hits out at 'neglect' of army over past 20 years

Defence Secretary says British army is in need of modernisation after lack of investment

Ben Wallace, the UK Defence Secretary. Getty
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Ben Wallace, the UK Defence Secretary, has said the British army has been "neglected" over the past two decades.

Mr Wallace's comments to The Sun come only a few weeks after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in the autumn statement that the defence budget would remain at 2 per cent of GDP at the least.

The secretary has long backed increased defence spending but ambitions have been apparently scaled back under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new administration amid tough decisions on public spending.

Mr Sunak's short-lived predecessor Liz Truss had pledged to spend 3 per cent of GDP on defence by 2030.

“We’re investing £24 billion ($29 billion) into the army’s equipment programme between now and the end of the decade," Mr Wallace said.

“That’s a lot of money. Because quite rightly, the army needs to catch up.

“It has been neglected by quite a few people over the last two decades, I’d say at least. So it needs to be modernised.

“We need to rapidly look at the lessons of Ukraine because they have actually given us an opportunity to see not only where we’re vulnerable, but actually have you got the balance of investment right within the army.”

Updated: December 02, 2022, 1:12 AM