http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/5848164/Labour-ministers-plan-reputation-trashing-of-Army-chief-General-Sir-Richard-Dannatt.html Telegraph Labour ministers plan reputation trashing of Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt Labour ministers are threatening to launch a concerted effort to tarnish the reputation of British Army chief General Sir Richard Dannatt. By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent Published: 6:50AM BST 17 Jul 2009 The threat came after it emerged that Sir Richard is planning to write a potentially explosive book about defence issues after he steps down next month. Relations between the Chief of the General Staff and the Government hit a new low after senior Labour sources warned the general will be âfair gameâ for political attacks when he leaves his post at the end of August. Sir Richard has publicly called for more troops and helicopters in Afghanistan, piling pressure on Gordon Brown over his support for the Armed Forces. Visiting Afghanistan this week, he again called for more âboots on the groundâ and revealed he had been forced to borrow a US helicopter because no British aircraft were available. His words infuriated ministers, and after Sir Richardâs retirement on August 28, some Labour MPs plan to raise questions about the generalâs role in recent decisions on defence policy. One minister said: âOnce heâs gone, we can have a go at him. He can write his book and talk all he wants, but heâll be fair game then.â In retirement, Sir Richard is likely to remain a thorn in Labourâs side. As well as writing a book about defence issues, he will be chairman of the Royal United Services Institute, a military think-tank, giving him a regular platform to comment on the subject. The Prime Minister has faced repeated criticism for failing to give the armed forces the proper resources in Afghanistan and Iraq. Appearing before a committee of MPs yesterday, Mr Brown repeatedly ducked questions about his decision to veto Sir Richard's request for almost 2,000 extra troops for Afghanistan. Mr Brown also faced criticism from the Commons Defence Committee, which warned that the shortage of helicopters in Afghanistan is limiting commandersâ options and increasing the risk to British troops. A total of 184 British soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001. As head of the Army since 2006, Sir Richard has repeatedly questioned Labourâs support for defence. Sir Richard is understood to be thinking of writing about military strategy and the future of Britainâs defence capabilities when he retires. Friends say he will not shy away from passing judgement on the Governmentâs treatment of the Armed Forces. âRichard will do his duty and carry out his responsibilities to the Army and the country whether he is in uniform or not,â said a friend. âHe does not go out to be political or seek conflict with ministers, but he takes his responsibilities extremely seriously and he will say anything he feels he has to say about the situation facing the Armed Forces.â A Labour source accused the general of âbuilding up his own reputation at the expense of the Armyâ and added: âThe manâs a hypocrite. Heâs sat in these meetings and approved these things, and then he comes out in public and complains about them.â As an example, the source cited the use of Snatch Landrovers in Afghanistan. Described as âmobile coffinsâ by some officers after several fatal attacks on troops using them, Sir Richard has defended their use as an operational necessity. General Sir Mike Jackson, the previous Army chief, in 2007 used his autobiography to launch a strong attack on the Ministry of Defence under Labour, accusing it of putting bureaucracy before the welfare of service personnel. A source close to Sir Richard said that he is considering a book about defence issues rather than a conventional autobiography. âHe has it in mind at some point to write something in the future but I would not describe them as memoirs,â the source said. Whatever form the book takes, Sir Richardâs plain speaking about defence is likely to make it controversial. The generalâs son Bertie, himself a former Army officer, is said to have suggested that his book should be called The Bald Truth, a joke about his fatherâs appearance and outspokenness. Reports of Labour MPsâ attacks on Sir Richard have caused anger in military circles, where some believe the general is the victim of a smear campaign. One former service chief told The Telegraph last night: âIf Labour people are lashing back at him, it must be out of the guilt they feel over the way their Government has treated the Armed Forces.â Messages left on the Army Rumour Service website used by many service personnel yesterday reflected military anger about Labourâs treatment of Sir Richard. One user said: âThe spin and smears are getting personal -- looks like heâs hitting them where it hurts with the truth.â General Sir David Richards, who will take over as Army chief next month, is said to be concerned about some of Sir Richardâs remarks and concerned that the row could sour relations between the military and the Government. Downing Street is wary of a confrontation with Sir Richard. As a concession to the general, the Prime Minister has ruled that a âtemporaryâ deployment of 800 troops in Afghanistan will now be made permanent. Mr Brownâs spokesman said: âIt is right that Richard Dannatt is able to talk about the issues that are affecting the Armed Forces at the moment.â And a source close to Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, also insisted that personal relations between Mr Ainsworth and the general were good. The two men sat together yesterday at the funeral in London of Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe of the Welsh Guards, who was killed in Afghanistan earlier this month by a roadside bomb.