Britain’s army will lose 20,000 soldiers by 2020 – shrinking from 102,000 to 82,000 as part of efforts to meet steep cuts to public spending ordered by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Telling BBC radio Thursday that he laments US defense cuts too, Gates said the “fairly substantial” spending cuts mean Britain “won’t have full spectrum capabilities” and the ability to be a “full partner” to the US.
“With the fairly substantial reductions in defense spending in Great Britain, what we’re finding is that it won’t have full spectrum capabilities and the ability to be a full partner as they have been in the past,” Mr Gates told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
The former US defense chief singled out naval cuts as particularly damaging. At the moment Britain does not have an operational aircraft carrier. And the two new 65,000 ton Queen Elizabeth class carriers are being built at the cost of around £6.2 billion, but until they arrive, Britain’s military capability at sea is not full strength.
The former defense secretary also said he was also concerned by reductions in American defence spending.