The UK armed forces are losing personnel faster than they can recruit, leaving their “warfighting readiness” in doubt, according to a new report by the Defence Committee.
The report also found the military has “key capability and stockpile shortages” that would hamper its ability to engage in “all-out, prolonged war”.
It comes as the Royal Navy announced that its most powerful warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, would not be sailing from Portsmouth on Sunday as planned to head more than 40 vessels taking part in the largest NATO exercise in Europe since the Cold War because of a mechanical issue.
The fleet commander said: “Routine pre-sailing checks yesterday identified an issue with a coupling on HMS Queen Elizabeth’s starboard propeller shaft.
“As such, the ship will not sail on Sunday. HMS Prince of Wales will take the place of HMS Queen Elizabeth on NATO duties and will set sail for Exercise Steadfast Defender as soon as possible.”
The Steadfast Defender drills will take place off Norway’s Arctic coast in March.
The deployment comes after armed forces minister James Heappey suggested that a British aircraft carrier could be sent to the Red Sea amid the continuing threat by Iran-backed Houthi rebels.