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Armed Forces Redundancies Should Be Avoided, Say Commentators

Posted on the 13 June 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
A British soldier in Afghanistan

A British soldier in Afghanistan. Photocredit: isafmedia

The background

4,000 redundancies were announced in the Armed Forces this week to try to lower the £38 billion black hole in the Ministry of Defence’s budget. 2,900 will come from the Army; and the Ministry of Defence says still further cuts are expected as the aim is the bring numbers down from 97,000 to 82,000. Commentators are largely upset about the deep cuts.

“In future we won’t be able to do the kind of things we have done on the scale we have done them in the past. That’s fine as long as the next decade is more peaceful,” said former Army chief Lord Dannatt, quoted on The Daily Mail.

Government says cuts are necessary

Defence secretary Philip Hammond said, quoted on The Daily Mail: “Of course I regret that it has been necessary to make redundancies to deliver our plans for reducing the size of the armed forces. We’ve now brought the defence budget back into balance for the first time in a generation. We will have smaller armed forces but we will ensure they will have the protection and equipment they need.”

We musn’t waste all this expertise

The Telegraph was alarmed – most of them are “middle-ranking officers” with “invaluable operational experience” in Iraq and Afghanistan. The services have been “stretched to the limit” in the past decade, resulting in “highly experienced officers.” They deserve “long and distinguished” careers. Sure, the MoD needs to balance its books – but we shouldn’t have to get rid of “so much talent.” Look at Syria, Yemen and Iran – our “Armed Forces could be busy for many years to come.” In that case, we’ll need “all their expertise, rather than cast it on the scrap heap.”

We should reward loyalty and service

Today comes news, said The Sun, of a “joint British and Afghan army patrol” heroically rescuing a “wounded comrade.” This is “real life” in Afghanistan. But now such loyalty seems “surplus to requirements.” One in three of these “redundancies are compulsory” – and yet all the MoD civil service redundancies aren’t. Unfortunately, those who “actually serve” are “easy prey for the bean-counters looking to save money.” The armed forces have “no union.” Sure, the government needs to cut costs – “but in this case it’s concentrating its fire on the wrong target.”

Soon our army will fit into Wembley Stadium

Our forces are “top heavy,” said The Express – senior ranks being “overstaffed” while “the junior ones are shamefully undermanned.” But that doesn’t mean we should be making people redundant. At this rate, the entire British Army will be able to “fit comfortably inside Wembley Stadium.” Our troops deserve better.

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