Defence Secretary Ben Wallace unveiled the Defence Command Paper this week, outlining the shape and size of the Armed Forces for the coming decade. The size of the Army was confirmed to be reduced by about 10,000 soldiers, as the UK focuses more investment in upgrading the Trident nuclear system and other hi-tech rearmament. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the changes would give the military the foundation to make them “all the more useful, all the more, I’m afraid, lethal, and effective around the world”.
And Mr Drummond, a former British Army officer and defence advisor to the Government, says it was a clear “message” to Beijing.
He told Express.co.uk: “If China started throwing its weight around big time it could take over Taiwan or Hong Kong.
“But what happens when it makes a land grab in Russia or Africa?
“I can see China doing something [like that] in another country that we decide is unacceptable.
“We might respond by kicking them out by conventional means, but then they could threaten nuclear retaliation.
“It’s terrible to talk about escalation like that, but in case it ever gets to that, we have to be able to threaten them enough that they take it seriously.”
The UK confirmed it will pursue deeper defence ties with Asian allies such as Japan, India and South Korea in an effort to counter a growing China.
The Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier will deploy later this year to East Asia and is due to carry out joint exercises with Japan.
The paper also placed an emphasis on countering the rise of China in the Indo-Pacific region – described it as posing a “complex, systemic challenge”.
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This will be achieved by basing two small patrol vessels in the region from 2021 and a Royal Marine unit from 2023.
But Mr Drummond said upgrading the UK’s nuclear arsenal is likely to be the most effective measure.
He added: “[Making sure they take us seriously] is what was behind the announcement and the increased number of warheads.
“It means we have nuclear weapons and in a dire situation, we will use them.
“That is what the message was and I think it’s a good message to send.
“These things are so dangerous, so lethal, that they have kept the peace since the end of World War 2.”
Despite this, Mr Drummond stated he would like to see more conventional action, too.
He continued: “I think the two patrol units are too small to have any real influence.
“What they do is demonstrate commitment to the region, though.
“This is where they will provide a stopping off point if we need to mount a larger operation in response to something else.
“I don’t think anyone in Europe has any understanding of how enormous their conventional forces are – they are just massive.
“I mean, a standing army of two million – that is huge – how you deal with that now is a problem.”