It may seem like I was going a bit overboard yesterday. Certainly, I didn’t mean to imply that Great Britain and its armed forces are now bit players.
But they are weakened. Military force, whether we like it or not, is a major part of international standing. If Great Britain goes ahead with this drastic cut, that standing is going to be damaged.
Having withdrawn from Iraq and heading that way from Afghanistan, I think that Great Britain is signalling that it won’t be doing this kind of thing anymore, at least not for a while. Barring a clear and direct threat to itself, the British Army won’t be operating so far from home. With these cuts, they won’t have the means to adequately do it. They won’t have the reach.
In the event of some other similar overseas war, I imagine Great Britain will limit their involvement to a naval role. Not so many boots on the ground.
Good or a bad thing? Thinking about it for the last day, I’m still not sure. Certainly Great Britain doesn’t need to be such a major force anymore. America has taken that role, as the (military) leader of the free world. The British Army, despite its reduced size, will remain a competent force. One of the best in Europe if not the best.
But the British military tradition is going to take a knocking. And their capacity to react to any direct threat will be lacking. And, as I said, they won’t be the international player they were before. Not as big a threat, not as important an ally, not as noticeable.