In this episode, host Harry Bucknall talks to General The Lord Richard Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff, British Army, and campaigner for veterans’ welfare.
In a fascinating conversation, Lord Dannatt talks about British Army resource cuts, political and defence issues, veterans’ welfare and his new book. “Victory to Defeat: The British Army 1918-40”.
Lord Dannatt draws historic parallels between the 1930s and today’s public debates about the modern Army, UK defence cuts and the Ukraine conflict. He expresses regrets about the British Army’s deficiencies on equipment, anti-tank missiles and small arms ammunition. As he puts it: “as much as high tech is really important, at the end of the day, it’s soldiers on the ground that have to close with the enemy”. He agrees with those who accuse the UK of hiding behind its allies, “particularly as far as our land forces are concerned”.
As a veterans’ welfare campaigner after stepping down as CGS in 2009, Lord Dannatt mentions his sense of responsibility towards those he had the privilege of commanding and serving alongside. In that context, he praises X-Forces Enterprise’s annual Soldiering On Awards of which he is Co-Chair of the judging panel: “We need to recognise those who are willing to put on a uniform, serve King and Country, and thank them for their service.”
Talking about his new book, he explains why the British Army won in 1918 and was humiliated in 1940. Essentially, with troops deployed to police Britain’s colonial possessions between the wars, it remained a mechanised army, in contrast to the Germans who “went down the armoured route”, integrating infantry and tanks, which they unleashed during their WW2 ‘blitzkrieg’ campaigns. “Victory to Defeat: The British Army 1918-40”, co-authored with historian Robert Lyman, will be published in September.
ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is grateful to Lord Dannatt for giving us his time and for his work promoting Army veterans’ welfare.
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Hosted by Harry Bucknall and featuring leading figures from across the British Army and beyond, our monthly General Talk podcast examines the changing role of the military in the modern world.
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