Announcement of cuts to reserve armed forces “short on detail”

April 29, 2009 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

liam-fox

by Amy Bourke

A complete overhaul of Britain’s reserve military forces, and 2,000 job cuts, were announced today by Bob Ainsworth, the Minister for the Armed Forces.

Mr Ainsworth revealed that there would be changes made in training reserves, better integrating the Territorial Army (TA) with regular forces, better managing the reserve estates and defining the role served by reserve forces for the first time.

He also announced that four Royal Signals regiments would be axed, which amounts to 2,000 jobs, as their communications equipment is “now obsolete”. However, he stressed that those affected would be offered “other opportunities within the TA.”

The decisions were based on recommendations made by Major-General Nicholas Cottam’s strategic review of the reserves, commissioned by former minister Des Browne.

Mr Ainsworth said: “General Cottam’s work offered seven strategic recommendations. I am pleased to announce that we are accepting all of them.

“They flow into more than 80 detailed recommendations. … Half the recommendations will be implemented immediately.”

He admitted that the other half could take up to ten years to implement.

The Shadow Minister, Dr Liam Fox, (pictured) criticised Mr Ainsworth for the brevity of his statement and the lack of details it contained, noting that although he had mentioned the TA, he had not mentioned the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Marines Reserve or the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

The statement lasted 14 minutes, and not even the seven strategic recommendations were mentioned in that time.

Dr Fox said: “I am afraid that this statement is short on detail and indicative of a Government who lack direction.

“If the Minister really wants to abolish obsolete bodies and make them disappear, I am sure that the voters will be only too happy to help.”

There are currently more than 2,000 reservists on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which makes up 8 per cent of Britain’s armed forces.

Some 18,000 have been deployed to operational theatres since 2003. Since then, 15 have died on duty.

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