Monday, 28 January 2008

Now MPs warn of 'overstretch'

The Defence Select Committee in its annual review has warned that the pressures brought about by increased military commitments are resulting in the Armed Forces finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the demands placed upon them and that this has been going on for seven of the last eight years.

Well, nothing new here then: the MPs are simply endorsing an already widely held view.
Their main points are:
  • The high level of Britain's military commitments around the world has resulted in insufficient recovery and retraining periods being provided between operational tours of duty. Instead of the two years troops should expect, some units are getting little more than one. Not only that but it has been reported elsewhere that for some, mainly officers, the tours themselves are being extended beyond the six months. [The MoD is now understood to be considering following the US example and formally extending the tours of duty to up to 12 months.] Not only is this bad for morale and encouraging increasing numbers of experienced personnel to quit the forces early, the lack of adequate retraining is also undermining proficiency in new weapon systems.
  • Massive cost overruns and delays on many capital projects are putting huge pressures on the MoD's already stretched budgets. The spiralling expenditure on ambitious weapons projects (Type 45 destroyers, Astute subs, Trident, CVF aircraft carriers, Eurofighter) is putting the screws on the money that's available for tactical equipment needed on the frontline (helicopters, radios, protected vehicles).
  • There continue to be shortages within some specialist groups in all three Armed Services - the medical corps and bomb disposal units are reported as being seriously undermanned.
  • Only 50% of Britain's armed forces are be free of "serious or critical weaknesses" at any one time; the target is 73% target.
  • The MoD is failing to meet its recruitment targets.

The last decade has shown that the Government has continued to dump more and more commitments on Britain's Armed Forces while at the same time not increasing the resources needed to meet them.

Link> The Times: Troops march out of army careers
Link> The Mail: MPs warn armed forces are at breaking point
Link> The Guardian: MPs warn of spending cuts
Link> The Guardian : Ainsworth Rejects Claims Of Crisis
Link> BBC: Former troops discuss pressure claim