01 Apr 2013

UK and US Combined Chiefs of Staff meet for first time in 65 years

The UK’s most senior military chiefs met with their US counterparts recently as a Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee for the first time since 1948.

The purpose of the meeting was to consider the “future challenges both militaries can expect to face during a period of uncertainty” after withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Committee also paid special attention to the continuing pressure on the shared resources of both nations which will be available for defence in future.

The historic meeting was hosted by America’s highest-ranking military officer, General Martin E Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, while Britain’s contingent was led by Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards.

The outcomes of the meeting will include recommendations to the UK and US governments on the next steps with this programme of work. As well as discussion sessions involving all the senior officers, the day’s events also included individual one-to-one meetings between the Chiefs to discuss specific areas.

The last time the Committee met, in 1948, led to the formation of NATO and changed the entire landscape for defence.

While full specific discussions will remain classified, it is likely that topics covered included the US “fiscal cliff”, the current US debt levels reached as a result of the growing defence budgets after 9/11, as well as the UK’s Force 2020 plan to see the Army reduced to 82,000, its lowest level since the Crimean War ended in 1856.

General Sir David Richards said: “Over the past decade of conflict I, and most of the British Armed Forces, have fought side-by-side our US comrades-in-arms. How we build on the mutual respect and confidence this has engendered to ensure we successfully move beyond today’s operations to meet fresh challenges has been at the heart of our discussions.”