Jackson backs 'IoS' campaign and sets his sights on Brown The former army chief says PM shoulders blame over Iraq By Cole Moreton and Marie Woolf Published: 09 September 2007 Gordon Brown is responsible for running down the British Army so that it is not ready for the new "generation of conflict" that soldiers now face, says the army's former boss General Sir Michael Jackson. The man who retired as Chief of the General Staff just a year ago attacks Mr Brown in his new autobiography, Soldier, to be published tomorrow, saying the promises made by Tony Blair when in power were not kept because of the attitude of his Chancellor. "The Prime Minister was quoted as saying that the Army could have anything it needed to which the cynical response was, 'Tell that to your next-door neighbour'." In an exclusive interview Gen Jackson told the IoS: "That quote means it's all very well for the [then] Prime Minister to make such a generous statement but it has to be backed up with money. And we all know where the money comes from." The general said he backed "wholeheartedly" the IoS campaign to repair the Military Covenant the contract between soldiers and society which has been broken by poor housing, inappropriate care of the wounded and injury compensation levels he said were "almost insulting". Nearly 40 high-ranking military officials are now behind the campaign, including the former chief of defence staff Lord Bramall and the former commander of UN troops in Bosnia Colonel Bob Stewart. Serving and former soldiers and their families have flooded the newspaper with messages of support. "Military operations exact costs in blood and treasure," said Gen Jackson. "Our soldiers pay the cost in blood; the nation must therefore pay the cost in treasure." The 63-year-old said the present Ministry of Defence budget would not give soldiers the resources needed to fight the long campaign expected in Afghanistan. The only way to afford the war under current spending plans, he says, would be to axe "big-ticket items" such as aircraft carriers to free up funds for ground troops. He is calling for an immediate defence budget increase of 10 per cent about £3.4b a year and a review of MoD spending. But asked if he expected that to happen under the present PM, Gen Jackson said: "I don't know whether the change from Chancellor to Prime Minister will give Gordon Brown a different perspective on the armed forces." Yesterday the Ministry of Defence announced that the 250 members of the King's Royal Hussars Battle Group would leave Iraq early this month, and another 250 troops by Christmas, to reduce numbers to around 5,000 after the withdrawal from Basra Palace. The current head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, told top soldiers last month that they must prepare for a "generation of conflict" in Afghanistan. Yet the support for our campaign at the highest level of military life expresses anger at Whitehall thrift undermining troops. Now the IoS has learned that the MoD told insurance companies bidding to provide life cover for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to "dissuade" personnel from increasing the amount of insurance they took out before they went to war and decreasing it when they came home. The military insurance policy, launched in May, offers private insurance cover for soldiers in combat. But the MoD, which underwrites the policy, said in the tender document Invitation to Negotiate sent out to the insurance industry last year: "Suggestions must include mechanisms for controlling the increase and decrease of units by personnel. In particular, the scheme design must dissuade personnel from increasing just prior to deployment and decreasing on return. Tenderers are to provide suggestions as to how this can be achieved." An MoD spokesman said the insurance cover now offered did include a penalty for those who cancel cover when they come back. "Individuals who cancel cover cannot reapply until the third anniversary of their policy's start date," he said. The scheme "complements the existing death-in-service benefits paid by the Armed Forces Pension Schemes." Another attack on the MoD will come this week when a committee of MPs is expected to criticise shabby accommodation for soldiers serving overseas. An inquiry by the Commons Defence Committee will say the families of personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan live in sub-standard accommodation while their loved ones risk their lives. A call to arms: generals and senior ex-servicemen add names to the Covenant cause Nearly 40 senior military officials have backed the 'Independent on Sunday' campaign launched last week to honour the Military Covenant. Supporters of our campaign include senior commanding officers who have led soldiers in some of the most prestigious parts of the British military. They include: Lord Bramall, former Chief of Defence Staff; General Sir Jack Deverell, former Commander-in-Chief of Nato; General Sir Hugh Beach; Major General Julian Thompson, former Royal Marines Commander; General Patrick Walker; Major General P R Davies, CB, ex-Colonel of the King's Regiment; Major General Robert McFarlane; Major General Mike Tennant; Major General A L Watson, CB, former Chief of Staff, Nato Command, Northern Europe; Major General Mike Regan; Major General Patrick Cordingley, former Commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade during the Gulf War; Major General Christopher N Last; Major General David Burden; Major General Walter Courage; Major General Peter Russell-Jones; Major Nigel Quinn; Major J D M Crichton Maitland; Major General Frederick Brian Mayes, former Director- General, Army Medical Services; Major Jeremy Whitaker; Colonel Sir James Stirling; Colonel Bob Stewart, former UN Commander in Bosnia; Colonel Garry Barnett; Colonel Robin Clifford; Colonel Guy L Wathen; Colonel Andrew Carter; Colonel Malcolm Grant Howarth; Lieutenant Colonel Mike Lerwill; Lieutenant Colonel Charles Holden; Major James Pertwee; Brigadier Allan Alstead; Brigadier K H Olds; Brigadier Chris Day; Brigadier Christopher Hammerbeck, former commander of British garrison in Hong Kong; Brigadier Robert Baddeley; Captain Robin Wheeler; Captain Michael Wardlow; Captain T P Lambert; Captain David Orr, formerly 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards; Captain Patrick Watson, former Company Commander, Black Watch Our aims We want soldiers to have the right to expect any war to be lawful; to have adequate resources; the right to be properly cared for in the event of injury; and the right to know that, in the event of their death, their families will be properly looked after.