The Prime Minister has surprised service chiefs by finally admitting that more will have to be spent on our Armed Forces. Military experts, though, disagree about where the money should come from
The message to the Army recruits was blunt but clear: parachute training is cancelled. The RAF has run out of aircraft. For the troops who had joined the four-week military parachuting course at RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, just four days earlier, it was a morale-sapping blow.
Instead of joining their regiments as qualified parachutists ready to jump into battle, the 60 troops, 20 of whom were raw recruits, were ordered to return to their units without their coveted wings, the mark of an elite airborne soldier.
In order to complete the course, the troops would have needed just one of the RAF's fleet of Hercules transport aircraft for a two-week period. But the operational demands of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now so immense that commanders are being forced to sacrifice military training programmes almost every week to ensure that the troops on the front line are properly equipped. It is a position, say many senior officers, that is simply unsustainable.
Edited for copyright etc. PTP