Betrayed by a Reckless Civilian Leadership ; LEADING ARTICLE ++ ARMED FORCES
The rumblings of discontent from the armed forces are growing louder. Earlier this year, the Chief of General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, breached the informal code of silence that binds serving generals, to warn that the "covenant" between service personnel and the Government is in danger of being undermined. Last week, his predecessor, General Sir Mike Jackson, used his first major speech since retirement to argue the Government was "asking too much" of the armed forces.
And now we have been furnished with evidence as to what these two distinguished soldiers were referring. A report by the House of Commons Defence Committee published yesterday revealed that the armed services are operating "in insufficient numbers and without all the equipment they need". The MPs highlighted a shortage of serviceable battlefield helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan and a lack of air transport to ferry troops to and from theatres of conflict. The report points out that all three services - the Army, the Navy and the Airforce - are breaching guidelines designed to ensure personnel receive recuperation and training time between deployments. It stops short of using the word "over-stretch". But most reasonable people would recognise that as being the reality.
Despite Tony Blair's recent pledge that the armed forces receive "whatever they need" to fulfil their responsibilities, the fact is that they have been under-equipped. And there is evidence this has proved lethal. An inquest heard this week that Guardsman Anthony Wakefield, killed in Iraq last May, might have survived if he had been given better body armour. A quarter of British soldiers who have died in hostile action in Iraq were killed in "Snatch" Land Rovers - vehicles soldiers have long complained are insufficiently armoured.
We do not have to look too far for signs of the strain in …
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Publication information: Article title: Betrayed by a Reckless Civilian Leadership ; LEADING ARTICLE ++ ARMED FORCES. Contributors: Not available. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: December 14, 2006. Page number: 38. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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