Britain’s renowned Special Forces are under threat from controversial cuts to the Royal Marines, MPs warn.
They fear that reducing the elite infantry corps will weaken the SAS and other Special Forces that recruit heavily from the Marines.
In a scathing verdict, the powerful Commons Defence Committee says it would be ‘militarily illiterate’ to axe up to 2,000 Marines and two amphibious assault ships.
The cuts are understood to be under consideration as part of a major review of national military capability.
But in a new report titled Sunset For The Marines?, the cross-party Defence Committee says the plans would leave the UK unable to conduct specialised amphibious operations when every other major power was increasing such capabilities.
They single out the grave consequences for Britain’s vital Special Forces, which take up to 50 per cent of their recruits from the Marines.
The report says: ‘The contribution made to UK Special Forces by the Royal Marines is… indicative of the quality of the people who pass through its ranks.
‘The growth in the use and tasking of Special Forces in recent years makes a continuing “pipeline” of trained and resilient personnel vital.
‘Reducing the strength of the Royal Marines will substantially reduce the recruitment pool available and reduce Special Forces’ amphibious warfare expertise.’
MPs also say that talk of major cuts will hit Marines’ morale and suggest they are being ‘sacrificed’ by Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Treasury.
New Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is fighting the cuts.