Top Army chief says there could be a major conflict within two years
Top Army chief: We could be dragged into a major conflict within the next TWO years – so our soldiers must be ‘more ferocious’ if we want to defeat our biggest enemies
- Major General Colin Weir warns that the Army has more to do to get battle ready
One of the Army’s most senior officers has warned that soldiers must become ‘more ferocious’ in battle if Britain expects to defeat its biggest enemies in war.
Major General Colin Weir, a decorated Afghanistan war hero and one of the Army’s most experienced combat commanders, said that the previous assumption that war was a decade away no longer applied following the invasion of Ukraine.
Claiming that a conflict against a ‘peer enemy’, such as Russia, could happen within two years, Maj Gen Weir added that British soldiers needed to be ‘faster to the punch’ and ‘better able to take a punch’.
Maj Gen Weir, who is chief of staff of the field Army, said the Army had ‘much work to do to get battle ready’, adding: ‘We need to be more effective at deep battle, more ferocious and lethal when close combat is joined.’
He also warned the reality of modern warfare meant that elite units, such as the SAS, Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines, were likely to be wiped out first, as lessons from the war in Ukraine had shown.
Major General Colin Weir, a decorated Afghanistan war hero and one of the Army’s most experienced combat commanders, said that the previous assumption that war was a decade away no longer applied following the invasion of Ukraine
He said: ‘Countless episodes from history, and the Russo-Ukraine war of today, point to the reality that exquisite weaponry, elite formations and regular forces are expended first and quickly.’
Maj Gen Weir made his comments in an article for the British Army Review, entitled No One Said It Would Be Easy… How We Will Fight In 2026. He said the Army was ‘absorbing the lessons from Ukraine’, to ‘reinforce our strengths’.
In a warning of what was potentially to come, he said a future war would be ‘confused, terrifying, exhausting, debilitating, damaging to mind, body and spirit and demanding on supply chains.’
He added: ‘The timeless truths of the realities of war – in the deep, close or rear – cannot be whiteboarded or cybered away.’
To date Russia has suffered an estimated 300,000 dead and wounded in the Ukrainian war, while Ukraine is believed to have casualty figures of 250,000. Russia has also lost over 2,000 tanks and hundreds of helicopters and aircraft. In comparison, Britain has an Army of around 78,000 personnel and 150 tanks.
Maj Gen Weir’s warning comes amid growing fears that the West – especially those nations facing severe economic difficulties – is beginning to suffer from war fatigue in Ukraine.
The officer, from Northern Ireland, was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for leading his regiment through one of the most arduous periods in the Afghanistan War. He became a Companion Order of the Bath in this year’s King’s Birthday Honours.
Royal marine commandos line up to storm a compound during a military exercise in Dorset
Last night, Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British troops in Afghanistan, said: ‘It’s absolutely right the British Army needs to be ready to fight, but not just from 2026. The Army should be ready to fight ferociously and with great lethality at all times. That is their purpose and that is what we fund them to do.
‘The Ukrainian war has reminded us that mass prevails above all else. Since the war began we have been continuing to cut our Army. It is now at an unacceptably low level in terms of men and women, tanks, guns and ammunition.
‘If the Government is serious about being able to defend the country it needs to invest more to rebuild the Army and support it with the most effective modern technology.’
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