United Kingdom Military - 2021


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Military and security forces

British Army, Royal Navy (includes Royal Marines), Royal Air Force (2021)

note: on 1 April 2021, the UK formed a Space Command as a joint command staffed by Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel, as well as civilians and key members of the commercial sector to manage space operations, training, and capabilities; in 2019, the UK formed the Strategic Command (formerly Joint Forces Command) to develop and manage the British military's medical services, training and education, intelligence, and information systems across the land, sea, air, space, and cyber domains; it also manages joint overseas operations

Military expenditures

2.32% of GDP (2020 est.)

2.1% of GDP (2019)

2.11% of GDP (2018)

2.09% of GDP (2017)

2.08% of GDP (2016)

country comparison to the world: 41

Military and security service personnel strengths

the British military has approximately 150,000 total active duty troops (82,000 Army; 34,000 Navy, including 7,000 marines; 33,000 Air Force) (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the inventory of the British military is comprised of a mix of domestically-produced and imported Western weapons systems; the US is the leading supplier of armaments to the UK since 2010; the UK defense industry is capable of producing a wide variety of air, land, and sea weapons systems and is one of the world's top weapons suppliers (2020)

Military deployments

approximately 1,000 Brunei; approximately 400 Canada (BATUS); approximately 2,200 Cyprus; 250 Cyprus (UNFICYP); 850 Estonia (NATO); approx. 1,200 Falkland Islands; est. 200 Germany (note - previously about 2,500, but the UK withdrew all but 200 troops by the end of 2020); 570 Gibraltar; approx. 1,400 Middle East (coalition against ISIS; NATO); up to 350 Kenya (BATUK); approx. 400 Mali (EUTM, MINUSMA, and Operation Barkhane); 150 Poland (NATO) (2021)

Military service age and obligation

slight variations by service, but generally 16-36 years of age for enlisted (with parental consent under 18) and 18-29 for officers; minimum length of service 4 years; women serve in military services including ground combat roles; conscription abolished in 1963 (2021)

Military - note

the UK is a member of NATO and was one of the original 12 countries to sign the North Atlantic Treaty (also known as the Washington Treaty) in 1949

NOTE: The information regarding United Kingdom on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of United Kingdom 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about United Kingdom 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.