The Armed Forces face a mass walk out with under-funding leading to a "major crisis" in defence, an influential report backed by former military chiefs warns.
20,000 British troops resigned last year fed up with poor pay, time away from families and inadequate accommodation Photo: GETTY
They will soon be "paralysed" by the growing number of resignations and will take a decade to recover, the UK National Defence Association paper says.
A “huge burden” has been placed on the Forces with more than 12,000 troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan that has led to an immense strain on both troops and equipment.
All three major political parties must now unite to back the "woefully under-funded" Forces whose budget urgently needs to be increased from the current £34 billion to £50 billion over the next three years, it states.
"The national interest requires the full-hearted engagement of Government and Opposition to rehabilitate our Armed Forces and repair our defences. Now is no longer the time for party politics," said Winston Churchill, the UKNDA's president and grandson of the wartime leader.
He warned that the Forces were "in crisis" with funding the lowest since the Thirties when "inadequate defence provision paved the way directly to world war".
The report highlights as a serious worry the continued drain of personnel which saw 20,000 troops resign last year fed up with poor pay, time away from families and inadequate accommodation.
"Remedial action can no longer be delayed without running the unacceptable risk of mass retirements from the widely demoralised Armed Forces," said the report, Overcoming The Defence Crisis, that was compiled by former generals, admirals and academics.
"There are no cheap victories in defence, but failure would be even more expensive. Never have all three Services had so little with which to do so much"
There has been a serious decline in morale resulting in more than 50 per cent of the military having considered resigning, according to the MoD's own survey.
To reverse the "unacceptable threat of major resignations" and restore morale the Services need a rapid improvement in pay, kit and manpower.
"The serious inadequacy of Britain's current and planned defence provision is undeniable," the 20 page report said.
Defence funding has hit the lowest level since the 1930s with no increase expected despite worsening world events
The Services have become "so run down" in terms of troop numbers and equipment that "urgent rehabilitation" is required.
With no major defence review since 1998 – before the Forces had fought five wars – the paper called for urgent review and for the Government to commit to higher spending before it concluded.
The paper argued that with equipment and personnel so worn out it would take three years to restore to previous levels even with the right funding.
The authors called on the Tories to exercise their bi-partisan duty "to ensure the country is properly defended" by encouraging the spending increase.
David Cameron's position of refusing any spending commitments was "completely inappropriate" as inadequate defence funding put "everything else at risk".
There was a "huge mismatch" between what the "seriously under-resourced" Army was being asked to do and what it could do properly. In order to meet requirements the Army needed to expand by 10,000 troops.
The RAF was "so run down" in numbers and capability that it was unable to meet commitments "by a wide margin". Apart from Eurofighter Typhoons it was fielding an ageing and expensive fleet. The RAF needed to increase numbers from 41,000 to 55,000 to "meet the growing known threats and the unpredictable" otherwise Britain would not retain air superiority on operations for the first time since the 1941 invasion of Crete.
On present trends the Navy's once formidable Fleet will be "grievously weakened" heading towards half its current size by 2020 with no air cover for the next nine years after the withdrawal of the Sea Harrier.
With fewer warships there was insufficient training and as a result "standards are dropping".
The MoD said the Defence budget had experienced its longest period of sustained real growth for over 30 years.
“Additional Treasury funding allows us to deliver urgent and cutting-edge equipment to operations,” a spokesman said.
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