Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Military Training Cuts

"They got the money for everything they asked for" - Gordon Brown, Chilcot Inquiry.

As we know Gordon Brown was talking about our armed forces in the above statement. What he didn't say is that he approved for a cut in military training exercises to save money.

A record 80 training exercises were cancelled last year while the number of British troops in Afghanistan rose to 10,000.

Last week, the Wiltshire coroner castigated the MoD over 'inadequate' mine detection training following the death of Cpl Sarah Bryant, the first British woman killed in Afghanistan and there SAS soldiers.

It is reported units training to deploy to Afghanistan within the next two years have had their training cut. One battalion commander said: "We are attempting to train essentially with one hand tied behind our back."

Figures show that the number of exercises conducted in the past three years fell by almost 30%, dropping from 646 in 2008 to 462 last year. Meanwhile the number of cancellations rose from 58 in 2006 to a high of 80 last year.

These cuts are expected to save the MoD around £20 million and were part of a £97 million saving forced on the Army along with a recruitment freeze. MoD officials admitted that cuts had been made as part of "in-year saving measures."

Training is an essential part of military work; particularly when we are at war. Reduced training puts more lives at risk. It's a well recorded fact.

I wonder of the MoD medal presentation celebrations and Christmas parties will be cut this year.

Gordon Brown says he supports our troops. By reducing training he's ensuring there will be more needless losses when we've lost enough of our young through inadequate training and equipment. It frustrates me that some people just can't see Gordon Brown's lack of commitment to our military. He has no interest. He treats this war as an 'out of sight out of mind' event. The worst Prime Minister in modern history will be noted for reducing military training while this country was at war - along with many other misplaced decisions.

Do have a read of George Foulkes' letter to the Guardian in which he expresses his anger at his fellow peers criticism of his pal Gordon. His voluntary appointments noted in the Register of Members Interests for the House of Lords alone is worth reading.


banned said...

Not exactly the front line but last year I met some students on their way home from a weekend 'training' with the OTC. Due to the then recently unannounced cuts their moorland training exercise had been cancelled because the OTC could not afford to hire a coach. They spent the weekend in barracks instead.

This is not about some dilitantes failing to have a fun weekend, a large number of future officers are directly recruited via the OTC, more or less for nothing.

CrazyDaisy said...


Great article, as you know this is part of my current bread and butter and right on the money.

Let's just say it's not about "The" War its also about ensuring we can respond to "A" War or more commonly known as having reserve capacity - trained and ready to react to internal and external threats.

Although Labour would have it that we were less capable of countering any Threat.

I'll leave that in the mix foe debate!

Bonnie here,


Oldrightie said...

Brown has become adept at and so beloved of his innate ability to lie without challenge, he now is besotted with lying at every opportunity.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Rosa - your not being cynical enough.

Why Mr Brown is giving our troops the very best of training. It's so hard and realistic many are coming home in body bags, while many more are being crippled for life.

Mrs Rigby said...

Re; Banned's comment.
I've heard, locally, that UOTC cadets haven't been paid for their training since last year. Field and weekend exercises cancelled due to funding cuts, staff wages cut or suspended. Same with ACF.

Also heard that UOTC were told not to hire any transport so cadets could get to the training centres, meaning they had to use public transport - at their own expense.

Balls had announced he would be funding more ACF - it was quietly dropped.

Don't forget that TA training was reduced too, with less live fire exercises, except in the few weeks prior to deployment

subrosa said...

As you know banned training is essential for all the military. Not only does it ensure they understand equipment it consolidates team work etc.

I do hope that OTC's CO complained to his superior. That's nonsense.

subrosa said...

CD we're less capable of countering any threat right now because so many are presently in one place and others are on their break from front line duties.

As for those seconded to other regiments they're never getting the chance of training because they're never together with their own colleagues.

subrosa said...

Ah yes RA. Survival training courtesy of one Gordon Brown. 270 dead so far and thousands living in constant pain with lives which will never be the same again.

subrosa said...

That wouldn't surprise me Mrs R. They pay is peanuts anyway, something like £20 a day. Even then it's a disgrace not to honour the young because they do contribute a great deal and they're full of new ideas and commitment.

I'll see if I can find out something about the OTC and ACF.

OTC members have been using public transport here for years and paying for it. During Iraq it was sometimes 'difficult' for them travelling on buses in uniform, that's when labour said they could travel in civvies. What a palaver that was carrying all the kit on a bus.

Surreptitious Evil said...

UOTC cadet (as opposed to staff) pay was stopped at the same time that (most) TA paid training was stopped - like (most) ACF staff pay. Unlike the TA cut which was announced as being restored (with variable practical effects - many things had already been cancelled), the others weren't reversed.

All 3 areas, and the regular Army, were already working under severe Travel & Subsistence restrictions that had previously been introduced and many other, albeit small, discretionary budget items have been, discretely, clawed back. Even units which were working on goodwill had problems because few have the internal capabiliy for major training, therefore have to depend on Defence Estates provided facilities - for which overtime etc may not be available due to cuts.

The fundamental problem is that there are few within-year flexible items on the Army budget. Many things are contracted out, therefore you either pay for them regardless of whether they are done or not or, in the worst case, you end up paying more in penalty charges than if you just let people do the work. This isn't news. T&S has always been the first budget item to be clawed-back. Don't get me started on the 'hire car ban'.

subrosa said...

SE, thank you very much for the update on that. I'm quite out of date I know. I do hope others take on board what you've said or perhaps you ought to do a post about it. The more who know what's going on the better, whilst our politicians ignore the basic necessity of training for all military.

Apogee said...

Has anyone thought this through a little further, what effect do you think this cack handed "saving" of money is having when applied to the upkeep and repair of the equipment and weapons that military personnel have to use? If the principle of "the lowest possible tender" is being applied to repair and purchases, with no real quality control being applied by the MoD
, how would you feel using this equipment.Safe? secure? Confident? don't think so!
The money misappropriated by the MP's and which had to be paid back would have paid for a lot of training, the money that should have been paid back and wasn't, would have paid for a lot more training!
There are no doubt other areas where stupid attempts to save a few pennies have resulted in costs of thousands of pounds and lives lost.
Most military personnel could tell tales about this, but they are not allowed to. Official Secrets Act.

Mrs Rigby said...

"The money misappropriated by the MP's and which had to be paid back would have paid for a lot of training, the money that should have been paid back and wasn't, would have paid for a lot more training!"

The money misappropriated by a single MP would have been more than enough to keep an ACF group afloat for a year - the staff get paid peanuts as it is, their 'camps' don't cost much and hugely benefit the kids who take part.

UOTC is the same, the cadets don't "earn" very much at all, and this year their training has been downgraded too, which is hardly fair especially when you see how some MPs are wriggling to keep their cash, when they already have a decent wage. Students exist on loans and, if they're lucky, part time work - which includes UOTC.

S.B.S said...

something else that may interest you all.
The army need some 3,000 new, or let us say different rifles as the standard SA.80, is a heap of crap,
The army brass wanted 3,000. good, but 500, have been delivered.
The SA80, has an effective range of some 300 yards, the Taliban have realised this and engage our forces at 300+ yards, that is the reason for wanting a new calibre rifle, tha army have been going on about this since 2006.
Now run through your mind again the forces have had everything they have asked for??
Think again.
I, as a once upon a time soldier know more about firearms than all the government departments, police forces in the U.K. put together, and I would refuse to go to war with the S.A.-80.

subrosa said...

Thanks for that information SBS. I'm sure many of my readers will take it on board.

I doubt if many, if any, are fooled by Brown's statements at the Chilcot Inquiry though. As far as I'm concerned he's a liar along with his pals Tony and Alistair.

Apogee said...

First time I saw an SA80, I thought it was a kids toy, and about as flimsy. After a few millions of quids spent on refurbishment/modification its still not that much better.
No, I don't believe the troops have been given all they need,more like the cheapest minimum the government can get away with.
As an early astronaut said.Its a sobering thought that you are sitting on top of this rocket when every part was bought on the lowest possible tender! That is the situation that our military are in !

subrosa said...

I know nothing about weapons Apogee but I'm sure quality doesn't come into it if the MoD are involved.

subrosa said...

I don't know what today's going rate is for the OTC and AFC Mrs R. Suspect it's in the range of £20 or so for a day.

Surreptitious Evil said...

UOTC pay is actually quite good (when they get it - which they don't at the moment) - considering what they are - training, no operational commitment and, yes, students. From about £35 per day to about £40 for Officer Cadets (so roughly equivalent to a full day at the national minimum wage 18-21 rate) and the best (or, possibly, the keenest!) can do Sandhurst, commission and get on to 2Lt TA pay rates. They also qualify for an annual bounty - much less than reservist rates - £140 up to £200.

ACF Officers only get paid for actual days (and not many of those, at least until the budget year turns - I think they are on H&S essential training only). Rates are the same basic as their equivalent rank but with lower X-factor. Non-commissioned Adult Instructors also get a day rate but I think this is less rank-based.

The problem with MoD procurement is that we fail to get value for money - we neither get cheap crap nor expensive brilliance - not the Trabant nor the Veyron. We get delayed, expensive mediocrity. Like a having 24-carat gold plated Lada - made in Britain (so we have to pay for a manufacturing plant) to "support British industry" - or, that's what BAE Systems keep telling the politicians. It would generally be cheaper to buy from abroad and just give the workers £50k per year. I would be willing to work with, say, a Lotus - British designed and made (even if foreign owned), slightly flawed - yes - but does the job.

WV - "tastable" :)

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