The Army is undermanned. Is it finally sinking in?

The facts reported are taken from the Commons Public Accounts Committee's Thirty Fourth Report: Recruitement and Retention in the Armed Forces (hyperlinked in Red for you to read).

The Committee began taking evidence on 15 November last year. The only serving member of the Armed Forces to give evidence to the Committee was Brigadier Stephen Andrews CBE Director of Strategy, Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Personnel), Ministry of Defence.

The report is worth reading in full beyond the mere executive summary if you have time to do so.

I doubt if it would tell you anything you do not already know but it would be interesting and indeed illuminating if that which we already know is anything anyone out there knows that the Committee should have heard and did not, or the questions that could have been asked and were not.

The Public Accounts Committee is the watchdog of Government spending and it's reports have, in the past, caused considerable embarrassment to the Government, and in that respect, the committee has been highly influential, at least politically.

The Government is not of course bound by it's findings which are of persuasive authority only but it's findings are generally regarded as authoritative.

Regards and best wishes
It doesn't help when you respond to a letter from the Army asking you if you are interested in rejoining, I served just under 8 years as an Armourer in Northern Ireland, Germany, Kosovo, Iraq, etc, and I got the following reply; "No problem - one of our team will call you back with details!" Two weeks later I call back to check what's going on; "No problem - one of our team will call you back with details!" Another month passes, I phone again - same reply. Balls to it, they can't be that short if they are turning down trained volunteers! (Or is it they just remember me!) :p

CC_TA :)
Mr Leigh said: "The MoD does not consider our Armed Forces with their current numbers of service personnel to be 'overstretched'. Let us fervently hope that it will not take some future operational failure on the battlefield for the department to change its mind."

The report also questioned the high proportion of officers drawn from private school backgrounds, particularly in the Army.

Derek Twigg, the defence minister, insisted that the Forces could cope. "The chief of defence staff himself has said that the Armed Forces are very stretched but can sustain what they are currently doing." he said. "I accept that there are manning challenges and shortages in some specific areas, but we are taking action."

Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said: "We cannot expect the needs of our Armed Forces to be adequately met whilst they are faced with overstretch, downsizing and extended tours of duty."

This is what is so wrong when spineless so-called Top Brass go along with the MoD line on over-stretch. It gets quoted back by spineless politicians. The sooner CDS goes the better. Can we have some plain speaking senior officers please. Who are prepared to tell the truth?
Woo hoo: go to the link and read the actual minutes of the committee... :lol:

One Mr Bill Jeffries (PUS) got a real battering from them. :D


Q45 Mr Bacon: Is there anybody in the room who
has anything stronger than a recollection?
Anybody? We are sending people over to
Afghanistan but nobody seems to know how many
we have sent.
Mr Jeffrey: I can certainly supply the Committee

Q46 Mr Bacon: You are sending people into the
line of fire and you do not even know how many
you are sending. Why not? Why not, Mr Jeffrey?
These are people who are dying for this country.
Mr Jeffrey: I simply am reflecting the fact that I do
not have the figure in my brief in front of me to be
able to give you a confident, absolute figure, but
my recollection is the same as yours.
Q47 Mr Bacon: We said originally that we were
going to send 5,000 but we ended up sending
considerably less than that. Is that what you are
Mr Jeffrey: The number we sent was based on the
best military advice—
Chairman: I think you had better find out quickly.
Mr Bacon: I just cannot believe this.
Chairman: Mr Jeffrey, you had better find out
quickly what is the number otherwise I will adjourn
this Committee while we are sitting.

Q48 Mr Bacon: It is just outrageous. At the
beginning of last year, in January 2005, the number
that I was quoted in a private conversation with
somebody I know who is in the Army was 5,000
and last autumn when they were sent near
Christmas, I cannot remember the date of the
deployment—and I am not a defence specialist, I
do not run the Ministry of Defence; you do—the
number that was quoted was considerably less than
5,000. It was from my memory slightly over 3,000.
I want to know what the exact and accurate figures
are and what it was that caused the advice to
change because I also remember that quite quickly
further troops were sent, so we are now at
considerably more than 3,500 or 3,300, are we not?
Mr Jeffrey: The first point to make is that I was not
myself in the Department in early 2005 so I have no
recollection of this—
Q49 Chairman: I am afraid in this Committee that
But there's also some worrying social engineering meddling being hinted at. One of the committee doesn't like 'posh people':

[/quote]Q100 Mr Davidson: You surprise me because I have
been on placement with the Armed Forces through
the Armed Forces scheme and I have been struck
by the number of people who are not from
backgrounds I would describe as normal. Some
sections rather than others are full of toffs and
“Ruperts”, which is not typical of society outside
Which sections would they be, exactly? What exactly is a 'toff', in this knobber's view? And since a 'Rupert' is a young officer, I would indeed expect some sections (like the officers' mess he was no doubt accomodated in on placement) to be full of them... :roll:

Stand by for forcible recruitment by social background...
I loved the line: The committee called on the MoD to develop a long-term strategy to deal with the problem...
So that's what the MoD has been doing wrong all these years. However, I must admit that we have seen some good stuff out of them in the past and long may they continue.
Which is why such reports are worth reading beyond their executive summaries!

Notice that the Parliamentary Committee takes evidence in it's committee Rooms from carefully prepared civil servants who find it difficult to respond beyond their briefs.

You know how the brief works, 'we had better put this in', 'we had better leave that out', 'we had better not mention this', we had better not venture into this area', 'we need to emphasise that', 'if we are probed on X issue we need to state that such figures are not collected centrally and cannot be produced without disproportionate cost.....'

The Committee will accept or reject evidence and reach their findings without ever having left their air-conditioned offices based upon evidence supplied by civil servants who have never left their air-conditioned offices with a token soldier to give it the fig-leaf of credibility who last left his air-conditioned office when he was a Company Commander!

How much of the evidence given do you think has actually been corroborated?

Do you think scrutiny here has been effective?

How much of what you have read actually relates to your experience?
Oh, don't worry Iolis - I have no faith in it as a mechanism for change...

Your description is quite correct. It's just vaguely amusing to see someone who normally has some of us running around scrabbling for info because he wants to know something, on the receiving end himself, I find... Schadenfreude, anyone?
I have been on placement with the Armed Forces through
the Armed Forces scheme
I think that just about sums up the military experience of a high proportion of people in modern political life. Politics used to be something you did once you'd had a career. It's no wonder that they've got no clue who's in the army or how it works.
I reckon its a bit unfair of parliament to have a go at the MOD for shortfall, when its more than likely attributable to the drop in investment from HMG. When will they learn that you get what you pay for?

TopBadger said:
I reckon its a bit unfair of parliament to have a go at the MOD for shortfall, when its more than likely attributable to the drop in investment from HMG. When will they learn that you get what you pay for?

Surely that cuts both ways - if MOD keep saying 'yes of course we can do more with less', 'we are stretched but not overstretched' etc then HMG will keep giving less money?
Im glad that there seems to be some 'accountability', however........
An honest observation topbadger but in my respectful view it is important to keep in mind that the MOD is a department of state which competes for funding from the treasury with other departments of state. Forget for a moment that a military headquarters is located within it and is subordinate to it. The MOD is, for all practical purposes headed by a Secretary of State who sits in Cabinet as part of HMG.

You are of course quite right in your observation that the country gets what it is prepared to pay for.

Love this reply on the Daily Hate, couldn't have put it better myself.

"Funny isn't it how it's always those not involved in daily soldiering that make claims about how the Forces can cope. Civil servants in MoD think life's tough if it rains on the way to work, Ministers are just telling lies to cover their backsides, so nothing new here. But the biggest disgrace is the senior officers who live a very comfortable life, well paid, and far from the danger zone who damn well should know better. For Gods sake, when will one of them, just one, get his head in the real world and accept this report is true and should not be dismissed with pathetic excuses.Its time they earned their pay as they surely dont know how to earn the respect of the men they lead. Bloody disgrace the lot of them."
I try and avoid the BBC 'Have Your Say' pages because they make me angry at how uninformed the public are:

Davy from Neath said:
I'm not surprised at all by the rate of service personel leaving the armed forces. Iraq and Afganistan are contributing factors; however, in the modern 21st century, where there is still such a class divide between officers and the ranks it was only going to be a matter of time. The old boys club for officers still operates in an out-of-date society where servants still serve their masters. Clean my boots, press my uniform, make my bed, clean my room and wait at my table. For god sake give our troops the respect, pay and dignity they deserve. It's time to make the officers play their part by serving themselves. They may even find they get great respect from their men and women.
Is that not unbelievably fcuking ignorant? We stopped using Batmen decades ago and even then it was never like that. During the Napoleonic era, if you wanted waiting on hand and foot, you took one of your own servants on campaign with you. The British Army has always had the best interests of its fighting men at heart and has always insisted on letting the ordinary soldier get on with what he does best, killing the enemy. Horses first, soldiers second and officers last.
My personal favourite on the BBC 'Have your say' forum:

Nigel MacDonald said:
The answer is easy. Every Snivel Serpent in the MOD under 35 HAS to join the TA as part of their conditions of employment. They also have to do at least one tour in a combat zone.Let the MOD staff find out what equipment shortages realy means.
Ooooooh, yes!
Having recently done AOSB, I noticed, rather than a massive proportion of "toffs", a good spread of society. Of course toffs were evident, but so were many other kinds of people, from all sorts of backgrounds.

It is incredibly ignorant of Mr Davidson to suggest that the Army "misses out on a large pool of talent" simply because the RMAS intake is not a mirror image of society. People ARE selected on merit and merit alone. It should not, and does not, matter what kind of school they attend.

This is very frustrating because, as someone pointed out, I can see pressure being brought to bear on the forces (especially the Army) to start recruiting more state school applicants. I hope this doesn't happen, as the current system recognises an individuals ability to lead and doesn't focus on top-down targets.

Similar threads

Latest Threads