Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Afghanistan soldiers' jobs at risk

The Ministry of Defence has revealed that up to 5,300 soldiers, including troops serving in Afghanistan, are to be made redundant this summer

Soldiers serving in Afghanistan this year face losing their jobs in a further round of redundancies planned for 2014.

A fresh tranche of up to 5,300 Army personnel are to be handed their notice in June as the Government tries to reduce the number of regulars to 82,000, it has been announced.

It will be the single biggest round of armed forces job losses under the coalition, although any soldiers preparing for, deployed on, or recovering from operations on June 18 will not be made redundant against their wishes.

However, the Ministry of Defence said those exempt from compulsory redundancy this year would not be protected from a further tranche of job losses next year, which would also affect medics and dentists in the Royal Navy and RAF.

Labour said "the heroes of today could be sacked tomorrow".

This year's round - the third instalment of redundancies arising from the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review - will be the biggest by far and confined to the Army. The first tranche in September 2011 saw 2,860 forces personnel across all three services made redundant, the second in June 2012 - again involving Army, Navy and RAF - hit 3,760.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "The Army is actively managing recruitment to reach the target numbers, but unfortunately redundancies are unavoidable due to the size of the defence deficit that this Government inherited and the consequent scale of downsizing required in the Army. We will have smaller armed forces but they will in future be properly equipped and well funded, unlike before. These redundancies will not affect current operations in Afghanistan, where our armed forces continue to fight so bravely on this country's behalf."

Labour urged the Government to revisit its defence review, which it said had been "exposed" by conflict and incidents in Mali, Algeria and Libya. "Today's statement raised more questions than answers, but one certainty is that the heroes of today could be sacked tomorrow," shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said.

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said the latest round of redundancies were "part of a reconfiguration along the lines set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010 and the Army 2020 vision to make the Army more flexible, adaptable and agile".

Asked what message the redundancies sent out at a time when Mr Cameron was talking of a "generational struggle" against Islamist terror, the spokesman said: "The message is that we are going to continue to have a highly capable, highly operational - even more capable and more operational - Army and armed forces who will, the Prime Minister has no doubt, continue to do an absolutely excellent job."

https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-defence(Ministry of Defence)

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