Thousands of troops face early axe ‘to end uncertainty’

The article below made me gasp with disbelief!  I just can’t understand how making people redundant earlier than expected could somehow relieve people of  “uncertainty”, which is what the spokesman for the MoD is quoted as suggesting.  As if the Minister of Defence is doing the soldiers and their families a favour by moving things forward! 

This is clearly not in the soldiers or their families favour.  It is clearly in the Government’s favour as it will allow for this painful process to be over and done with before election time. My opinion, and I’m no military expert, but making whole divisions of troops redundant in a time of high unemploment is going to have implications on housing, schools, and society in general. My concern would also be in how well compensated those made redundant close to pension point will be.  Will we be seeing more soldiers and their families being denied the pensions they have earned and deserved?  I hope not.  My appeal to Government and to Army Chiefs is “slow up” don’t “speed up”!!! 

The servicemen and women who are going to be made redundant need time to resettle, retrain, rehouse and find schools for their children.  They have shown loyalty and committment to the Crown and successive Governments, they and their families deserve a similar show of loyalty and respect.

The Times:  1 October 2012 – Tom Coghlan

Thousands of soldiers could be made redundant a year earlier than planned in a major cull of the Armed Forces. Two rounds of job losses scheduled for 2013 and 2014 could be merged into one to be announced after Christmas. Officials argue that this would “end uncertainty” for service personnel and their families.

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, and General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, are to discuss the proposal this week. The Times understands that the Army prefers two rounds because of the practical challenges of one large cut. In all, nearly 8,000 redundancies are to be made.

Under government plans, the Army must be cut from approximately 102,000 personnel to 82,000 by 2020. Defence sources said that the pace of the reduction was linked to progress in the war in Afghanistan.

“The Defence Secretary is keen to end uncertainty and give clarity so troops and their families can plan for the future,” said one Ministry source. “They will look at options but it is tied very tightly to Afghan force levels.”

Mr Hammond said three weeks ago that ground commanders in Afghanistan now believe an accelerated drawdown in Helmand province will be possible. “I think there is a bit of a rethinking going on about how many troops we do actually need,” he said. “There may be some scope for a little bit more flexibility on the way we draw down, and that is something commanders on the ground are looking at very actively.”

The Government is worried by the continued drip of bad news caused by cuts to service personnel, which would continue close to a 2015 general election on current plans.

The RAF and Navy have both already completed reductions of 5,000 personnel each. While natural wastage and reduced recruitment are expected to produce a large proportion of the required 20,000 cut in numbers, about 8,000 compulsory redundancies are also expected.

Labour warned yesterday that the proposed acceleration would have human consequences. “There is a human and military impact to redundancies on this scale,” said Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Secretary. “Each job lost is a family potentially struggling and also impacts on the role the UK can play in the world.”

In a statement the MoD said: “There are no plans to make any further reductions beyond the changes announced last year. The size and timing of any future redundancies has yet to be determined.

“However we aim to remove uncertainty for Army personnel and their families as soon as possible. Difficult decisions have had to be taken to deal with the multibillion-pound black hole in the defence budget.”

Michael Clarke, the director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, a British security think-tank, said he believed Mr Hammond was considering the move “because it would save money”, and the Chief of the General Staff “because it would help end uncertainty among the troops”.

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