Small Wars Journal

Austerity-Battered U.K. ‘Retreating Behind a Nuclear Shield’

Austerity-Battered U.K. ‘Retreating Behind a Nuclear Shield’ by Steven Erlanger – New York Times

On NATO’s border with Russia, soldiers with Britain’s Yorkshire Regiment recently joined Estonians in a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Navy’s critical intervention in the country’s battle for independence against the Bolsheviks. Schoolchildren clambered over a huge Challenger 2 battle tank, an AS-90 artillery gun and an armored personnel carrier.

 

To all appearances, it was a stirring reminder of Britain’s commitment to European defense, Brexit or no Brexit.

 

But the battalion, based in Estonia as a critical part of NATO’s response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, is the polished surface of a hollow shell — a British military that has been badly damaged by austerity and political choices that have consistently favored symbol over substance in a struggle to remain a global power.

 

For a military that once spanned the globe, this squad of some 1,000 troops and assorted armor represents the largest British battle group deployed anywhere in the world. Budget cuts have led to sharp reductions in troops, equipment and investment, and analysts warn that Britain is no longer capable of defending its homeland by itself…

Read on.