British soldiers may have to fight in Africa ‘in the near future’
“History shows we will be involved in a major deployment…I’d say it will be in Mali and the Sahel area, where Islamic fundamentalism is a major problem,” said Gen Lord Dannatt.
It is the latest salvo in a row over defence.
MPs say Britain should increase spending on the Armed Forces to at least three per cent of GDP.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson wants an extra £4billion a year.
But Chancellor Philip Hammond claimed a £20billion boost for the NHS meant there was no more money.
It also follow warnings that President Donald Trump may cut the US commitment to Nato in Europe if nations like Germany do not honour pledges to spend more on defence.
It leaves Britain, as Europe’s leading military power with France, pressured on two fronts: Its commitment to European defence and the need to back global aspirations after Brexit.
Gen Dannatt said if Britain wanted to keep its role on the world stage, it needed “usable deployable and capable” Armed Forces, but warned they were being “demonstrably” eroded.
British army chief: Russia may be thinking of WAR
He urged Prime Minister Theresa May to ignore the argument that “there are no votes in defence” warning: “Russia is more of a threat than ever, as is Islamist fundamentalism.”
The general said Britain’s contribution of just three Chinook helicopters to a large French, US and UN task force halting the spread of Al Qaeda in Mali “makes us look ridiculous”.
He added: “I don’t want to see a hundred body bags come back from there, but… if it reaches countries like Sierra Leone and Kenya…we’ll have to get involved then. Isn’t it better to get involved before this happens?”