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Therese Raphael

Britain Needs Some Leveling Up in Its Military

Worries mount over the UK army falling behind the navy as Putin’s land war rages.

British tanks on parade.

British tanks on parade.

Photographer: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images Europe

At first glance, the military seems to be the one area of beleaguered Brexit Britain still holding up. The UK spent 2.3% of gross domestic product on defense in 2021 and has the second-highest defense budget in NATO after the US, which is in its own league. Not long ago, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was singing the praises of the country’s military modernizing capabilities after a 14% increase in defense budget over four years, the largest such check written since the end of the Cold War. 

But last week, a senior US general reportedly told Wallace that the British Army is no longer regarded as a top-level fighting force. There was Wallace in the House of Commons, echoing the criticism; “we have hollowed out and underfunded” the military, he told MPs.