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‘Thousands’ more troops needed to tackle IS – Richards

General Lord Richards: ”We need an army that can sustain a demanding operation”

The former head of the armed forces has called for the British army to increase in size, in order to tackle Islamic State (IS) and other Muslim extremists.

General Lord Richards told the BBC “thousands” more soldiers were needed.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said while IS was a “serious threat to our way of life”, the response was not as straightforward as “ramping up” troops.

A video showing the apparent beheading of aid volunteer Alan Henning, 47, was released by IS on Friday.

He was the second British hostage to be murdered, following the death of David Haines.

‘Back to drawing board’

It isn’t actually a counter-terrorist operation, this is a conventional enemy”

General Lord Richards

Lord Richards said the plan to cut the regular army and bolster numbers using reservists could be made to work – but added that we were “in a different era” to just two or three years ago.

“This needs to be put right quickly,” he said. “My instinct is it can’t be and we need to go back to the drawing board and revise the size of the regular Army back up again.

“If we are talking about a generational struggle, as I think the prime minister is and he’s absolutely right to talk about, then we need an army that can sustain a demanding operation, not just in Syria and Iraq potentially, in a largely support role, but think of all the other places where Muslim extremism is causing havoc.”

He told the Andrew Marr Show he wanted the UK to play a role in the aerial campaign over Syria, describing the move as a “bit of a no-brainer”.

‘Scale of response’

“I’m very clear that that is the view of the prime minister and most of his party,” said Lord Richards. “His problem is delivering the politics that enable us to do that.

More here.

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