Trying to support a military beyond the capabilities of the British government is a recipe for disaster, the British defense secretary said.
The coalition government of British Prime Minister David Cameron had made a series of cutbacks to the country's military, including shelving five infantry battalions.
British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond defended the cuts in an interview with British newspaper The Sun.
"There's no point having a cardboard army. We want a real army with real equipment and real fighting capability," he said. "Trying to pretend that we can afford something we can't is a route to disaster because you end up with people not properly equipped to do the job you're asking them to do."
Cutbacks in defense spending will cut the British army ranks by 20,000 to 80,000. This comes despite the call up for more than 18,000 troops to provide security for the 2012 Summer Games in London.
Cameron, in a separate interview with the BBC, said that, despite the cuts, the British military will "still be perfectly capable" of warfighting and providing national security for events like the Olympics.
Cameron last year announced 500 soldiers would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012. The defense secretary told the House of Commons that most of those forces would be combat troops.