In 2007/08 the MoD admitted that the Armed Forces were failing to meet Service Agreement Target 3: "to generate forces which can be deployed, sustained and delivered at the scales of effort required to meet the government's strategic objectives". Only 58% of units satisfied this target for "readiness"
During the first quarter of 2008/09 this measure had further declined to 39% and that despite some relaxation of the targets. (NB in 2005/06 the figure was 77%.)
The HCDC believes that the principal cause of this stark decline in readiness has been high operational tempo over the last six years. As the MoD's Annual Report and Accounts for 2007-08 says: "for the sixth consecutive year the Armed Forces continued to operate above the level of concurrent operations which they are resourced and structured to sustain over time".
In order to reach the targets that the MoD has set for readiness, units have to be recuperated. Readiness is measured in terms of manpower, equipment, training and sustainability. Recuperation addresses issues of damaged or worn equipment, personnel and training and how to sustain operations over time.
The HCDC is particularly interested in:
- the extent to which shortcomings in current readiness are the result of operational tempo or military funding
- the balance needed between recuperating units which have been underemployed with units which have seen intensive action;
- the balance in priorities for recuperation between manpower, equipment, training and sustainability;
- the role of industry in the recuperation of the Armed Forces;
- the likely costs of and time-scale for the recuperation of the Armed Forces, and how such recuperation will be funded;
Army chiefs have been saying for years that the UK's global military commitments are unsustainable without serious injections of cash. The current economic situation is not going to help matters either. The defence budget needs to be restored in real terms to the level it was before Prudence got his hands on the purse strings.
HCDC: Defence Committee Inquiry into Readiness and Recuperation for the contingent tasks of today