UK admits Iraq, Afghanistan wars hitting military training
LONDON, March 10 (NNN-IRNA) -- The British government Friday acknowledged that the sustained pressure of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was affecting military training.
In response to concerns expressed by the Defence Select Committee, the government said the military, particularly the army, "do not have the time available to conduct the level of collective training needed to prepare fully for other contingent operations."
"It is therefore not possible to address this shortfall as the Committee seeks without reducing the standard of training and preparation for the operations we are currently fighting. We do not think this would be the right thing to do," it said.
The government was responding to concerns expressed by the all- party group of MPs that the reduced training will impact on military effectiveness and the armed forces' ability to "fight the next war." The committee, in a report last November, also warned that Britain's Armed Forces had been operating at levels above the defence planning assumptions and said the Defence Ministry should revise its manning requirement "upwards to fit the realistic need."
But the government insisted that "some identifiable respects in which the level of commitment is likely to reduce in the coming years."
It used as examples the draw down of troops in Bosnia, which will free up some 600 troops, and the reposturing of UK forces in Iraq by 1,600 troops later this year, even though the UK was increasing its forces in Afghanistan by 1,400.
On concerns about personnel leaving the armed forces, the government said that overall retention is "generally satisfactory, although in some areas exit rates are higher than we would like."
It agreed that troops were "operating in challenging conditions" with nearly one-fifth of the armed forces deployed on operations and military tasks, but said it had a "suitable process in place to meet the long-term equipment needs."
In reply to the government's response, committee chairman James Arbuthnot said that he remained "concerned about the impact that the current level of operations is having on the MoD's ability to achieve its performance targets in a range of areas."
"While the draw-down of forces in Iraq and the Balkans should help alleviate some of the pressure on manning levels and force readiness, the impact on non-operational training remains," Arbuthnot said.
"If this goes on it is bound to reduce military effectiveness in the longer term," the Conservative MP continued to warn when issuing the government's response.