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Slashing 9,500 soldiers from the British Army after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “madness” and could “break” what remains, a former Chief of the General Staff warned today.

General Lord Richard Dannatt feared cutting troop numbers from 82,000 to just 72,500 will pile unsustainable pressure on what is left of the force.

“It’s a mere fact of life, we will break the remainder of our Army if our Army is not large enough, trained well enough and equipped well enough to do what the Government of the day wants us to do,” the retired officer, who was head of the Army during operations in Afghanistan, told Sky News.

“You can’t make people work endlessly with such small numbers, so numbers in terms of our land forces really, really matter.”

He welcomed Boris Johnson ’s pledge at last week’s NATO Summit in Madrid to boost UK defence spending from 2.12% of GDP to 2.5% by the end of the decade.

But he urged the Prime Minister to abandon cuts agreed before Vladimir Putin ’s forces invaded Ukraine on February 24.

A sniper section from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment training in Canada ( PA)

“We must reverse the cuts in numbers to the Army and also increase our investment in our Army around war fighting capability,” he said.

“It is an important point that we are still going ahead in this country with reducing our Army by 10,000 troops over the next few years,

“Frankly, that’s madness because if NATO is going to have 300,000 high-readiness troops, we’ve got to play our part in that and reducing our Army further just makes no sense whatsoever.”

The alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced at the summit in the Spanish capital that NATO, which has 40,000 response troops, would bolster that to 300,000 high-readiness forces following the war in Ukraine.

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