A secret memorandum leaked to Britain's Daily Telegraph indicates that the demands of the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have so sapped British military strength as to undermine the ability of the military to defend Britain itself.
Gen Sir Richard Dannatt has told senior commanders that reinforcements for emergencies or for operations in Iraq or Afghanistan are "now almost non-existent".
In the memorandum to fellow defence leaders, the Chief of the General Staff (CGS) confessed that "we now have almost no capability to react to the unexpected". The "undermanned" Army now has all its units committed to either training for war in Iraq and Afghanistan, on leave or on operations.
"General Dannatt's appraisal means that we are unable to intervene if there is an emergency in Britain or elsewhere, that's self-evident," a senior officer said.
"But this is a direct result of the decision to go into Afghanistan on the assumption that Iraq would diminish simultaneously. We are now reaping the reward of that assumption."