British Armed Forces

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British Armed Forces
MinistryofDefence.svg
The tri-service badge
Established 1707
Parts Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
BritishArmyFlag2.svg British Army
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force
Leadership
Commander-in-Chief Queen Elizabeth II[1]
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
(de facto authority)
Secretary of State for Defence
Rt Hon David Cameron MP


Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP
Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Houghton
Serving soldiers
Available to
be a soldier
14,607,725 males, age 15–49,
14,028,738 females, age 15–49
Fit to be
a soldier
12,046,268 males, age 15–49,
11,555,893 females, age 15–49
Active employees/soldiers 205,330 active personnel
Reserve personnel 181,720 regular reserve[N 1]
Expenditures
Budget FY 2013-14: GBP £36.3 billion[2]
FY 2012-13: USD $60.8 billion (ranked 4th)[3]
Percent of GDP 2.5%[3]

The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom. The British Armed Forces are officially called Her Majesty's Armed Forces, and they are sometimes called the Armed Forces of the Crown.[4] The British Armed Forces is made up of three parts: the British Army, the Royal Navy (and the Royal Marines) and the Royal Air Force.[5]

The Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces is the British monarch.[1] Members of the British Armed Forces must swear that they will obey the orders of the monarch (swear allegiance). Under the constitution of the United Kingdom, the armed forces controlled by the Crown, however, because of the 1689 Bill of Rights, the UK cannot have an army during peacetime unless the British Parliament allows it.[6] Nowadays, the British Parliament passes an Armed Forces Act every five years, which means the UK can keep its military. The British Prime Minister is the de facto commander of the British Armed Forces.[7] The armed forces are managed by the Ministry of Defence.

The British Armed Forces protect the United Kingdom, the British overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They also take part in United Nations peacekeeping missions.[8] The British Armed Forces often take part in NATO missions. The most recent wars the British Armed Forces have fought are the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Operation Palliser, peacekeeping in the Balkans and Cyprus, and defending the no-fly zone over Libya. The British Armed Forces have bases in the following places: Ascension Island, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Diego Garcia, the Falkland Islands, Germany, Gibraltar, Kenya, Qatar and the Sovereign Base Areas (Cyprus).[9][10]

The United Kingdom tested its first nuclear weapon in Operation Hurricane in 1952. As of 2012, Britain is one of the five recognised nuclear powers. It has around 225 nuclear warheads. The United Kingdom's nuclear weapons are controlled by the Royal Navy.

Notes[change | edit source]

  1. There were 181,720 regular reserves from all services of the British Armed Forces. 33,380 were in the Royal Air Force (2007), 121,820 were in the Army (2007) and 26,520 were in the Royal Navy (2002).

References[change | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Parliament Speaker addresses Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 20 March 2012
  2. HM Treasury 2013 Budget (20 March 2013)
  3. 3.0 3.1 SIPRI Yearbook 2013 - 15 countries with the highest military expenditure in 2012
  4. Armed Forces Act 1976, Arrangement of Sections, raf.mod.uk
  5. "Ministry of Defence". Ministry of Defence. http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/Home/. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
  6. "Bill of Rights 1689". Wikisource. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bill_of_Rights_1689. Retrieved 5 August 2011.
  7. United Kingdom (05/06), state.gov
  8. The Mission of the Armed Forces, armedforces.co.uk
  9. Permanent Joint Operating Bases, northwood.mod.uk
  10. House of Commons Hansard, publications.parliament.uk