Territorial Army soldiers going to Afghanistan without training, David Cameron says
Territorial Army soldiers due to deploy to Afghanistan are being denied basic training because of budget cuts, David Cameron has said.
By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
Published: 4:12PM BST 14 Oct 2009
In the House of Commons, the Conservative leader confronted Gordon Brown with the case of a TA officer who contacted his office to raise the issue of training cuts.
The reservist, a TA major who is due to go to Afghanistan next October, told Mr Cameron his unit was told that they would only be paid for half of their weekly training nights.
The unit has also been told that training weekends will also no longer be funded, the reservist told Mr Cameron. The officer asked not to be named, Mr Cameronâs staff said.
An Army memo published this week sets out Â£43 million of cuts in the TA budget, and said: âTA soldiers who have not been warned to go on operations will suspend all training until Apr 10â.
Mr Cameron said that the officerâs case suggested that soldiers due to go to Afghanistan are indeed being affected by the training cuts.
He told Mr Brown: "Volunteers being asked possibly to lay down their life in the service of their country are not getting the basic training they need. This is totally unacceptable."
Mr Brown told Mr Cameron: "Our determination is that every member of our armed forces who is in Afghanistan, or going to Afghanistan, is both trained and equipped for the work they undertake."
The MoD accepted that some TA training had been cut, but insisted that pre-deployment training for reservists has not been affected.
A spokesman said: âAs much as the Regular Forces the Reserves must now focus available resources to supporting the ongoing campaign in Afghanistan, which means reducing activity levels elsewhere.
"Operations will not be affected: TA soldiers who are due to be mobilised in support of operations will continue to be trained.â
Maybe sometimes, but certainly not in all cases (although you can argue that RTMC and OPTAG counts as 'training with the regulars').
TA soldiers do a good job, but there is a skills and experience gap to be filled between completing CIC and deployment. With mobilised service, PDT is limited to about 2 months when you subtract RTMC, OPTAG and pre-deployment leave.
For an inf soldier mobilising for deployment with a formed regular inf unit, he becomes available for full-time training pretty much towards the end of the regular unit's pre-tour build up. Challenging enough, but with the massive cuts to training pre-mobilisation, there is a massive risk about to be taken here.