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Defence Committee inquiry to probe UK’s readiness for war

24 April 2023

Today the Defence Committee launches a new inquiry into the Armed Forces’ combat readiness for operations and warfighting.

This inquiry will examine a range of factors influencing combat readiness, including supplies and stockpiles and regular and reserve force numbers. Logistics and military planning will also be covered, as well as the expectation of collaboration with allies and defence partners.  

The Committee is asking for written evidence submissions by Monday 5 June 2023.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said:  

“In an increasingly unpredictable and volatile world, our Armed Forces need the ability to respond to crises at a moment’s notice. Maintaining robust combat readiness isn’t just a matter for active wartime – readiness is a vital deterrent against future conflict. 

From the cuts to boots on the ground, to a decrease in real terms funding and potential capability gaps on the horizon, concern around our ability to respond to provocation is understandably high. Even the Secretary of State for Defence himself has described the British Army as ‘hollowed out’, and there have been suggestions that the United States no longer view us as a top tier fighting force.  

The world is becoming more dangerous, not less. In this inquiry we will examine the UK’s current state of combat readiness – both our strengths and potential weaknesses.

Our Service personnel are amongst the most skilled and highly trained in the world and this inquiry will ask what impact cuts to numbers and funding may have on their ability to respond to new or escalating conflicts.

We’ll also ask how the UK Government can address any shortfalls and which gaps must be given urgency.” 

Terms of reference

The Committee welcomes written evidence on the following: 

  • Are the armed forces sufficiently capable, resourced and ready to protect the UK and our allies?
  • What are the main gaps in capability and/or readiness, and what will it take to fill these gaps?
  • Are the UK armed forces a ‘tier one fighting force’? Do they need to be? 
  • What are the consequences of the army having been “hollowed out and underfunded”? Which of these consequences needs to be addressed most urgently?
  • Are the Government’s plans sufficient to address any shortfalls?

Further information