British military chief warns the army is thin

Britain's military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq have left the armed forces with nearly no troops to spare for any unexpected emergencies, the country's top army officer warned in a memo leaked to the press on Saturday.

British military chief warns the army is thin
Britain's military missions in Afghanistan and Iraq have left the armed forces with nearly no troops to spare for any unexpected emergencies, the country's top army officer warned in a memo leaked to the press on Saturday.

Chief of General Staff Sir Richard Dannatt warned that under- manning meant that almost all units were now committed to operations, training for war in Iraq or Afghanistan or on leave, according to the document published in the Daily Telegraph.

"We now have almost no capability to react to the unexpected," Britain's most senior military man wrote in the memo to the country's defence leaders.

He noted that the Airborne Task Force, formed around the Parachute Regiment, was unable to deploy fully "due to shortages in manpower, equipment and stocks."

Dannatt also warned that reinforcements for emergencies or operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were "now almost non-existent."

The memo follows on Defence Secretary Des Browne's announcement on Thursday of a cut of 500 British troops in Iraq in the upcoming winter, leaving some 5,000 forces there on the ground.

The Ministry of Defence in a reaction to the report appeared to play down Dannatt's warnings, with a spokesman saying that "the situation in respect of current operations remains manageable."

But opposition politicians reacted by criticising the Labour government. Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said the lack of reserves was a "damning indictment" of the government's use of the armed forces.

"They are being asked to carry out tasks for which they are neither funeded nor equipped," Fox said.

Liberal Democrat defence policy spokesman Willie Rennie said "what more evidence does (Prime Minister) Gordon Brown need to pull the troops out of Iraq and focus on Afghanistan?"

DPA

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Temmuz 2007, 11:23
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