Magazine article Public Finance

NAO Spotlights 'Critical' Weaknesses in Armed Forces' Readiness for Battle

Magazine article Public Finance

NAO Spotlights 'Critical' Weaknesses in Armed Forces' Readiness for Battle

Article excerpt

Opposition defence secretary Michael Ancram has accused ministers of sending the country's armed forces into combat with one arm tied behind their back', after a National Audit Office report revealed that more than a third of the military could not be deployed on time.

The watchdog's report, Assessing and reporting military readiness, shows that, across the three forces, 38% had serious weaknesses' in being prepared for battle, of which 2% were described as 'critical'.

The ability to get the forces ready had become 'increasingly demanding' over the past three years, a trend that would almost certainly continue, the NAO conceded.

Hardest hit appeared to be the Royal Navy. Little more than half of its fleet would be able to deploy in time over the next six years.

The NAO said many of the navy's funds had been diverted to the army in recent years to cope with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That situation could be exacerbated next year as the UK army takes the lead in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan. …

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