The Ministry of Defence announced yesterday that 11,000 armed forces personnel would be made redundant - with some soldiers losing their jobs just six months after returning from Afghanistan.
The Ministry of Defence announced yesterday that 11,000 armed forces personnel would be made redundant – with some soldiers losing their jobs just six months after returning from Afghanistan. These latest cuts, coupled with the revelation last week that more than 50,000 NHS jobs faced the axe, further undermine David Cameron’s pre-election pledge there would be no frontline cuts.
In an interview with Andrew Marr on May 2nd last year, the Tory leader said:
“We’ve said which departments we will protect, and that’s the NHS, which for me and for many families in this country absolutely comes first, and it’s vitally important people know that…
“What I can tell you is any cabinet minister if I win the election, if we win the election, who comes to me and says here are my plans and they involve frontline reductions they will be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again.”
This is the first major announcement about MoD cuts since the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), in which the MoD said it would be:
“Reducing the number of military personnel by 17,000 across all three Services, 7,000 from the Army, 5,000 from the Royal Navy and 5,000 from the RAF.”
Of the 11,000, redundancies announced yesterday, 5,000 will be from the army, 3,300 from the Navy and 2,700 from the RAF, with 6,000 posts lost by “a decrease in recruiting and by not replacing those who leave”.
There are fears, however, that there will be more frontline reductions ahead. Last November, Left Foot Forward reported growing uncertainty at how defence secretary Liam Fox would achieve £4.3 billion of “non frontline savings“, described at the time by shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy as “wishful thinking and political expediency”, with a warning frontline services would have to be cut.
As he wrote at the time:
“The Government has outlined in the Strategic Defence and Security Review that it will make £4.3bn non-frontline savings but it is now clear that this figure does not withstand examination. It is hard not to conclude that the Government arrived at this figure through a mixture of wishful thinking and political expediency.
“On p.31, the Review states that the Government has “identified new non-front line savings of at least £4.3 billion over the Spending Review period” and goes on to specify nine areas where savings will be made. I enclose a copy of the relevant section. Answers to Parliamentary Questions, however, demonstrate that work has not begun on costing these specific areas and it is unclear on how the £4.3bn figure has been settled on.”
Yesterday, Patrick Bury outlined on Left Foot Forward the strategic assets available to Britian with regard to military action against Gaddafi, concluding:
“Unfortunately, events in Libya have exposed British defence weaknesses. The British ground force toolkit for dealing with such contingencies post-defence cuts is pretty limited. And it’s not just the ground forces toolkit that’s the problem; the whole spectrum of the UK’s strategic defence assets are being curtailed.”
The latest frontline redundancies risk further curtailing that capability.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.