United Kingdom Military

The United Kingdom is a sovereign nation located in Western Europe and is known for its strong military and defense. The British Armed Forces is the military branch of the country and consists of five branches: Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Special Forces. The total active personnel stands at around 150,000 with an additional reserve force of around 200,000 personnel. The UK has a strong defense budget compared to its GDP as it spends about 2% of its GDP on defense. The country imports weapons from countries such as United States, France, Germany and Italy. The UK also has strong ties with other countries in the region such as France which allows them to cooperate militarily when needed. As a result of this strong military presence in the region UK has become an important regional player in security issues and is able to maintain peace and stability within Europe effectively. See naturegnosis to learn more about the country of United Kingdom.


The defense is based on NATO membership. Britain’s territory is part of NATO’s Northern Command, whose naval staff is located in Northwood, London. The United Kingdom is a nuclear power and, in addition to airborne nuclear weapons, has four modern strategic submarines with a maximum of 200 nuclear warheads.

A discussion was held in 2003 within the EU on a common European defense and security policy in the formulation of the EU’s new, yet to be adopted, constitution. Germany, France and others states stated that the transatlantic ties are of strategic importance to NATO and thus to Europe’s defense. The United Kingdom is still strongly opposed to a common defense but positive to its connection to the United States.

The UK’s defense (2009) comprises approximately 160,000 personnel recruited. Large parts of these forces are located outside the UK. The reserves amount to 200,000 people. The army comprises about 90,000 men and has 360 modern tanks and 160 combat helicopters. The presence in Germany has decreased from 56,000 men to 22,000. Most of the UK’s ground forces are organized in two mechanized divisions. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that GBR stands for United Kingdom.

United Kingdom Army

The Navy consists of 30,000 men. The fleet has 13 submarines, of which four are nuclear weapons, and 27 are larger fighter ships, of which two are aircraft carriers, as well as 23 smaller fighters, seven amphibious vessels, etc. The naval infantry of 7,000 men is organized in a command brigade, etc. The Air Force consists of 33,000 men with 340 fighter aircraft. 114 Tornado and 62 Harrier.

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In addition to the forces in Germany, Britain has smaller forces in other NATO countries: 1,600 men stationed in Cyprus, 550 men in Brunei, 1,500 men in the Falkland Islands and 340 men in Gibraltar.

In Iraq, there were 11,000 men in connection with the 2003 war events. Following a decision in March 2009, all combat tasks have been completed, and a remaining force of about 4,000 people is undergoing long-term settlement.

The strong ties with the United States remain under the Barack Obama administration. A decision is made to continue operations in Afghanistan within the framework of the UN-sanctioned ISAF mission. There are 8,300 people in Afghanistan. This strength may increase depending on developments in Afghanistan after the 2009 elections.

The United Kingdom participates in a number of UN peacekeeping operations, in addition to the forces in Afghanistan. 160 people in Serbia and Montenegro (KFOR), 260 people in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and in addition observers and advisors in some 25 countries. The United States has approximately 11,000 men, mainly air combat forces, stationed in the United Kingdom.

Defense costs fell from 5.2 to 2.3% of GDP in 1985-2007.

The UK’s defense is based on enlisted personnel. The total personnel force for Britain’s armed forces is 148,350 active personnel, with a reserve of 80,000 personnel (2018, IISS).

The United Kingdom is a member of NATO.

The United Kingdom has strategic nuclear forces that include four submarines with 48 ballistic missiles and up to 160 nuclear warheads.

The United Kingdom has a joint helicopter force for the Army, Air Force and Marine (Joint Helicopter Command), which includes 50 Apache combat helicopters, 55 multi-use helicopters and 122 transport helicopters, 12 light transport aircraft and seven medium-duty drones.


The army has a staff of 83,500, including 3100 Ghurcas. Army heavier material comprises 227 tanks of a Challenger 2, 623 armored carriages of a warrior and 1291 armored personnel. In addition, three landings vessels.

Air Force

The Royal Air Force has a staff of 32,500 active personnel. The equipment includes 154 fighter aircraft (137 Typhoon and 17 F-35B Lightning II), 59 training and light fighter aircraft (Hawk), six AWACS aircraft (E-3D Sentry), 12 reconnaissance aircraft, 14 tanker and transport aircraft (Voyager), 61 transport aircraft, 149 training aircraft, eight helicopters and nine heavy combat drones.

The Navy

The naval forces (Royal Navy) are 32,350 active personnel, including 6600 Marines (Royal Marines). The fleet includes 10 nuclear powered submarines (of which four strategic of Vanguard class), one aircraft carrier of Queen Elizabeth class, two dock landing ships of Albion class, six destroyers of Daring class (Type 45), 13 frigate (Type 23), 22 patrol vessel, 13 minesweepers and four relief vessels.

Also under the navy is the civilian manned Royal Fleet Auxilliary, which has around 1950 personnel, three Bay-class docking vessels and 12 auxiliary vessels.

The Navy has its own Fleet Air Arm. Materials include 12 Hawk training and light fighter aircraft, four light transport aircraft and 58 helicopters.

Strategic nuclear missiles of the type Trident D-5 are deployed in four submarines of the Vanguard class.

Forces abroad

The UK had forces in 2018 including Ascension (20 personnel), Bahrain (160 personnel, naval base), Brunei (1000 personnel (Ghurkas), three helicopters), Cyprus (2260 personnel, 12 fighter aircraft, four helicopters), at The Falkland Islands (1,200 personnel, four fighter aircraft), at Gibraltar (570 personnel, two patrol boats), in Nepal (60 personnel, Ghurka training center) and in Germany (3750 personnel).

International operations

In the United Kingdom, 2018 participated in NATO operations in Afghanistan (Operation Resolute Support) with 1100 personnel, in Kosovo (KFOR) with 24 personnel, and had deployed 1015 personnel in Estonia and Poland (Enhanced Forward Presence).

In addition, the United Kingdom participated, among others, in the UN operations in Cyprus (UNFICYP) with 278 personnel, and had 450 personnel and combat drones deployed in Iraq and Kuwait (Operation Shader). In 2018, it was revealed that the right-wing Koch brothers, billionaires from the United States, supported the radical right wing in the UK. Over the previous years, they had provided $ 300,000 in support to the right-wing Spiked group. Trump’s former chief adviser Steve Bannon also frequently participates in events organized by the European Radical Right. The US’s covert intervention in Europe aims to undermine trade, environmental and women’s movements and empower like-minded darkmen.

Although it was almost 50 years since Britain started the war in Northern Ireland when it executed on January 30, 1972, 14 civilian protesters in the massacre known as Bloody Sunday the wound continues to gap open. Already in 1972, the British state decided that its soldiers and officers had acted correctly when they killed 14 protesters. The state’s money laundering continues 50 years later. In March, British Minister for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley declared that the massacre was not a criminal act. This happened in parallel with the prosecution – with a delay of 50 years – investigating whether a case could be brought against any of the soldiers responsible. The prosecution ultimately decided that just one of the murderers could be tried. A decision that triggered much criticism in Northern Ireland. Another case brought similar criticism during the same period. In 1994, a British death squad conducted a massacre at a pub in Loughin island, Northern Ireland, killing 6. Police later declared that “every stone would be turned”, but none of the murderers was ever brought to trial. In 2016, a documentary about the massacre, the responsible and the British authorities was made. Now something happened. The two people behind the movie were jailed. Only in 2019 were they released and released. The court case after 30 years of British war against Northern Ireland continues to wait.

Britain suffered a staggering international defeat in 2019 over the issue of its occupation of the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean. In February, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued a ruling that Britain’s occupation of foreign territory was illegal and that the colonial power should leave the archipelago with immediate effect. In May, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution tabled by Mauritius ordering Britain to follow the ruling of the International Court of Justice. Both the United States and the United Kingdom had, up to the vote, through extortion and persuasion, tried to persuade the UN member states to vote against or at least abstain. So much bigger was the defeat as 116 states voted for the resolution and only 6 voted against: the United States, Britain, Israel, Australia, Hungary and the Maldives. The result clearly illustrated that the influence of the old colonial states on the world community was on its way out. In 1965, Britain left the largest island in the Chagos archipelago, Diego Garcia to the United States, who created a huge air base and has since used the island for bombing attacks on targets in Asia and to torture centers. The United Kingdom declined to follow both the Court’s and the General Assembly’s decision, citing that it would “worsen the security policy situation in the Indian Ocean”. Not all Brits agreed. Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn urged the government to follow the decision of the world community. In vain.

After several polls in the British Parliament in the spring of 2019, British Prime Minister Theresa May had to give up on agreeing on the country’s exit from the EU. She no longer had support in her own Conservative party and had to resign in July. The post of Conservative leader and prime minister was taken over by Conservative EU opponent Boris Johnson.

Economic development

Since World War II, the British economy has been affected by a crisis of varying strength. The international system that British capitalism had developed within – the Empire – had finally collapsed. Instead of trade with the colonies or the Commonwealth, British industry had to switch to competition with other highly industrialized countries – notably the United States, later West Germany and Japan. British industry slowed down. Especially because the country had older production equipment, a lower technological level and a working class less integrated into capitalist society.

Working class, immigrants, women

The working class in the UK is far more independent than is the case in, for example. Scandinavia, where it is increasingly integrated into the public sector. Newspapers and mass media, culture, etc. are much more characterized by being designed for the bourgeoisie alone, and are marked by its values.

The exclusion of the working class from the public arena in this way makes it more difficult for ideologies of community to take root. The class divide becomes clearer. At the same time, the class is split and does not direct its struggle against political power, but against economic conditions. This leads, among other things, to for unconscious attitudes towards immigrants.

Despite being the most militant women’s movement in Britain (see the Women’s Movement), women first gained full voting rights in 1928. In many other areas, women held a weaker position than in other Western countries. The struggle for one’s divorce opportunities continued throughout the interwar period, as did the struggle to guarantee women the same economic rights as men.

In the 60’s and 70’s, a formal progression took place. First of all, with the relatively liberal abortion law in 1967, then with the Equality Act of 1975, and the Equal Pay Act of 1976. However, the latter two have been largely formal.

In the ’70s, the women’s movement grew the Women’s Liberation. It was a collaboration between different women’s groups rather than an independent organization. One of its main member organizations was the National Abortion Campaign (NAC), which fought the attacks on the abortion law. The Women’s Voice is a group closely linked to the Socialist Workers Party, and as such, places great emphasis on working women and the economic struggle. In the late ’70s, several groups of women, who called themselves socialist feminists, were formed, and more based on the socialism and gender roles debate.

In the 50s, large numbers of workers to the UK flowed from Commonwealth countries – especially from South Asia and the West Indies. As economic expansion and the need for labor proved to be temporary, these hundreds of thousands of black and colored residents became a political and social problem. There were ghettos in the big cities, and racist tendencies became more evident – even in the working class. The National Front (NF) is the main racist party, but the progress it had in the mid-70s was halted. The Anti Nazi League has played an important role in the fight against the NF and racism.

As early as 1962, the Conservative government proposed an immigration law. Labor thought the law was racist, but by the change of government two years later, the law was nonetheless implemented by Labor – in a sharpened version. Since then, the parties have predominantly agreed on an immigration policy that in practice distinguishes between the races. Today, immigration is minimal.