Leaked documents say Army has 3,000 shortfall.

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by hansvonhealing, Jul 16, 2006.

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  1. Sunday Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2272265,00.html

    Army hit by 3,000 front line shortfall
    Michael Smith

    Leaked documents on shortages of infantry in the British army: Director of infantry report on undermanning as of 1 December 2005 | Director of infantry cancels redundancies due to ‘manning deficiencies’
    THE Army is short of 3,000 infantry as soldiers quit because of the war in Iraq, leaked documents reveal.

    The disclosure has prompted allegations that ministers covered up the problem by claiming that last December the infantry was fully manned.
  2. Thank you hansvonhealing,

    It is also worth going to the Home Page of the Times on this one and reading the photocopies of the documents in their entirety.

    Regards and best wishes
  3. Just to note that unfortunately due to a snafu, page 5 of the leaked document, which gives the individual battalion shortfalls as at 1 Dec 2005, has been inadvertently left out of the first document on the website. (The current page 5 is actually page 6.) I will get this changed asap but at this time of morning it is difficult. In the meantime, if anyone wants to see it just email me at mick@michaelsmithwriter.com and I will send you it by return.

    There is also more information on this on my TimesOnline blog at

  4. Page 5 is now present and correct. However, page 8 is AWOL and both 7 and 9 put in a double appearance. Your techie guys have had a bad weekend!!

    Now back to the actual subject. It's all well and good reporting the undermanning issue AGAIN. I mean, it's hardly changed in the last umpteen years and we've heard it all before. But what good has it done? Is the aim of the piece to to try and catch HMG out in a lie or to actually do something positive regarding the undermanning? It smacks of the former, which seems to me to be a bit of a lost cause: too little, too late!
  5. Just like to point out on your comment Merkator that when the same practice was exposed with Manning Control, it did make a very big difference, the Government stopped abusing it that very month it was exposed for what it was. :wink:

    More reasons For a BAFF
  6. This is what Colonel Tim Collins had to say in his excellent 2005 Book "Rules of Engagement". I would be interested in knowing whether his views resonate at any level:

    His view in my opinion is directly related to that which the Times reveals. Colonel Tim wrote this in 2005 the same year in which those leaked documents were published.

    Some might think that the views of Colonel Tim are vindicated by what the Times reveals.

    "The Treasury wanted to find billions of pounds in savings, no doubt to fund Gordon Brown's social service and world debt agenda and the Armed Forces, not a vote winner and led by those who would never stand up to central Government, was an easy hit. In any case, recent history has shown that the defence sector can be battered with swingeing cuts and yet still be one of the few public services to deliver the goods. This combination of dedication, ingenuity in the face of resource starvation and weak leadership made it an ideal target for saving. The measures being considered to find these savings were set to cripple the training system. Once attacked, it is very possible that the training system might never recover in which case the Army would become much less effective."

    "The Army was already massively overextended. Some 12000 troops had already been allocated to supporting the police in Northern Ireland. With insurgency in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and a major undertaking to convert the Army to a digitalised force (ie, making all radios and navigational aids interoperable and giving the UK's Army a capability to work alongside the US Army), operational commitments took up all that was left. In fact, the so-called 'Harmony Guidelines', which allowed time between operational deployments of twenty-four months, the Army was 17,500 men short. Against any future contingency, there was nothing. The overstretch in Field Army Units meant that a lot of the training had to be cancelled anyway. The Army was doing too much with too few resources. It was, quite frankly, depressing....."

    "It was no longer the Army I had joined. From a massive force stationed across the world and ready to meet the unexpected when I had signed up in 1981, the British Army is now largely stationed at home and on operations across the world barely able to meet it's commitments and debilitated by budgetary constraints. Undermanned, the Regiments cannot fill their ranks under the current rules. The training regime has largely been civilianized, which brings the attendant problems of bullying and misbehaviour. (at night the trainees are left with a ratio of the order of one adult Army instructor to 250 trainees. Bearing in mind that some of these are teenagers, some as young as sixteen, this is a scandal. If a school were run like this, it would be closed down). Additionally, the actual training places become available very slowly and as a result a young person who turns up at a recruiting office is often invited to come back in six months or more. So much happens in a teenager's life in six months we rarely see them again.

    "This is no way to man an army and the figures show it does not work. This has come about because of the success of the civil service in gaining power over the controls of the Armed Services and their attempts to run it as a business. Coupled with this we have simply had some bad leaders. Those who I call the 'Neithers'. These are self-publicists who are neither soldiers (most have never been in a fight even in the playground at school), nor businessmen, thought some like to flatter themselves that the 'run multi-million Pound businesses'. The enjoy business talk and like to pretend that they are up with the latest business thinking. These staff pigeons have even developed their own language, a Newspeak that charts the Byzantine budgetary structure and cripples innovative thinking. It is in fact a mechanism for combing the thinning hairs of the Army's once proud main to cover the parchment-thin skin of this formerly world-class service. There can be no doubt whatsoever, that real businessmen would do a much better job running the Army. We, as a nation have long since discovered that the in-house entrepreneurs in the public sector are low grade The private sector has the cream and a business like the Army - if it is to be run as a business - needs this sort of talent. They would need military advice for sure, and that is where the men of proven leadership and field experience come in. Alternatively, generals could run it as an army. But that seems to be outmoded."

    "I left the forces convinced that there was a burgeoning need for a merciless cull at the highest levels to cut out the destructive dead wood that was stifling initiative, pandering to the civil service assaults and failing above all to give any leadership whatsoever to the services."

    Regards and best wishes
  7. Merkator I take your point but as I point out on my blog, we are just a few months away from FIS when the loss of three battalions was supposed to produce some redundancies, some transfers to other corps and 500 odd soldiers left over to bolster battalions with smaller establishments. But the documents show that even if recruiting recovers and the number leaving drops to previous levels, the infantry will have 1,200 fewer men than it needs - the equivalent of two battalions - when the restructuring takes place next March. If they continue as they are now, the deficit will be more than 2,200, the equivalent of nearly four battalions worth of infantry, and further cuts in the number of infantry regiments will have to be contemplated. So is it worth highlighting? I think so.

    As for catching the government out in a lie. Well I do think that it is the media's job to keep harassing the government to ensure that they are honest with the public, and your only access to the politicians is through parliament and the media. But to be fair, this was not really a lie, the answer was accurate but deliberately - and once you see the documents shamelessly - misleading. It is also worth pointing out that although it is a politician who answers the parliamentary question officially, he isnt the one who compiles the answer.

    Liam Fox, the Conservative defence spokesman, who asked the original Commons written question that led to the false claim of 100 per cent manning, was told in response to a follow-up question in February in which he asked for manning figures for each individual infantry battalion, that the minister concerned would provide full details in a letter, a copy of which would be placed in the Commons library. But strangely, five months later, the letter has still not arrived and Fox has just received an apology from Tom Watson, the new junior defence minister, which claimed difficulties in finding a suitable format for the figures but promised they would arrive soon. They actually appear in a very simple format on pages five and six of the first leaked document. I would like to be a fly on the wall in the minister's office when someone tries to explain that one away.
  8. the way goverment runs the army funding reminds me of those cheepy House make over programs where they go in with a few hundred pounds and do the job thinking that using a shit load of MDF would do the job instead of coffing up the right money and doing it properly
  9. Quite so! HMG are past masters at manipulating the 'real' truth and selling the half-truth. Sadly, the media (your own employer included) have been all too eager to play with them rather than against them. True, in the last couple of years this relationship has become a little more brittle, but hardly damaging to HMG. Even the damning evidence spewing out of the Home Office has had little 'real' effect on 'Teflon Tony'.

    The reduction in volunteers for HM Armed Forces has been on a downward spiral for many a year. Recent foreign policy decision may well have had a small impact, but are far from the 'killer-punch'. There are a whole raft of issues that need MAJOR rethinking in order to make HM Armed Forces an attractive career choice for the youth of today. Many of these do involve direct HMG input: finance, employment conditions, policy, etc., but it also goes much further than that. If you want to help the undermanning cause, I suggest you start running frequent and repeated exposes on the neaderthal employment contracts, the broken compact between society and the military, etc. etc.

    The reason for FIS was, in my opinion, based upon the premise of money saving. The structural choices for FIS were, in part, chosen to alleviate many of the difficulties experienced in retaining personnel. The FIS is not all bad.

    Boring! The excuse was a non-excuse. Anyone with an ounce of intelligence will spot that one. It's the same as, "we don't give out details of vehicles in theatre" when normally they do. It's a simple way of dodging the issuing of bad news. I'm sure they minister has a long list of other equally boring excuses to work his way through.

    micksmith, you work in a profession that could do 'real' damage to this government in respect of its attitude and actions towards HM Armed Forces. Occasionally, you hit the mark, but they are all too infrequent and too minor. Far more tabloid paragraphs are used up attacking the soldiers themselves, sometimes with justification - thus making HM Armed Forces an easy target.
  10. A good example of what?

    The press expose of 'Manning Control' certainly did bring it to a wider audiance - after the impact had already wrecked untold damage - and when the practice was already winding down naturally. Moreover, 'Manning Control' still exists toady, albeit done in an even more underhand and snide way which is supposedly for the 'good' of the individual!

    HMG is failing the people who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for Queen and country. In my opinion, the media, collectively, could and should do far more to reverse this.
  11. merkator wrote
    Not when it was first challenged by a serving soldier, who is still serving today. The system had been in full operation since 1993 The figures were manipulated more so from 97 right up to 2002 as admitted by Mr Hoon in 2003 in a letter to Mr Keetch.
    Its not just the press and Politicians who should bring these injustices to the public arena but also the individuals subject to the mistreatment as the serving soldier in that case did.

    merkator wrote
    The regulation still exists but Discharge at Manning Control and the method that it was used/abused has not taken place since April 2002. Manning control is now only used to measure the MPT, not discharge.
    If you have evidence contrary, then may I put it to you to make a difference and do something about it, like the serving soldier. After all, you would be in a position to expose ministers for misleading the house on the subject again and help make the difference, that I feel you want to see