The U.K.'s armed forces have yet to break the "vicious cycle" of equipment and manpower shortages that continue to hinder its preparation for a high-intensity war, a bipartisan report from the U.K.'s parliament released on Feb. 4 said.
Officials from NATO countries have voiced growing concerns about the alliance's lack of preparedness for a conflict with Russia since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Lieutenant Admiral Rob Bauer, the chair of the NATO Military Committee, said in January that civilians in NATO countries should be ready for the prospect of an all-out war with Russia within the next 20 years.
U.K. generals have criticized the hollowing out of the country's military in recent decades, pointing to a decrease of almost 30,000 service members from the standing army, including reservists, to a current total of 73,000 soldiers.
"Ukraine brutally illustrates that regular armies start wars; citizen armies win them," said the U.K.'s Chief of the General Staff, General Patrick Sanders, in a speech in late January.
He added that the U.K. cannot simply rely on its air and naval power.
According to the Feb. 4 report entitled "Ready for War?" the country's military faces a staffing shortage and is "losing personnel faster than they can recruit them."
The government has not fully grasped the potential severity of the situation, and the report's authors claimed that the government was not fully "transparent" as the findings were compiled.
The report argues that the U.K. must introduce measures to improve the recruitment and retention of its military personnel but should also significantly increase its industrial capacity. Previous attempts to institute such reforms have not led to the desired outcomes, the report said.
"It is clear that the government will never achieve warfighting or strategic readiness without a thriving industrial base and without an offer that can attract, develop and sustain enough service personnel skilled to meet the increasing and evolving military challenges that we as a nation face."