A report in the Financial Times says Britain's defence chiefs are insisting that the Treasury must next year 'guarantee' that UK military spending will from 2015 rise annually by two per cent. | The Daily Telegraph runs a letter from Rear Admiral Scott Lidbetter who says that having an aircraft carrier with no planes is like having a tank with no gun. | The Sun claims MOD officials have cancelled Christmas for our brave troops by banning morale-boosting parties both at home and on the front line (see below). | The Daily Telegraph reports that the bodies of three Polish army officers buried in Britain are to be exhumed as part of an investigation into the mysterious death of Poland's wartime leader. | The Daily Mirror reports that cash-strapped Taliban have been hit by a huge rise in the price of bombs after SAS strikes on their supply route. | The Times claims British Intelligence has suffered its most embarrassing setback since Iraq after a senior Taliban commander promoted by MI6 as the key to an Afghan peace process was exposed as an impostor. | The Guardian has a report by journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad who tells how he was taken prisoner by the Taliban fighters he was trying to interview. | The Daily Telegraph reports that Lieutenant Colonel Angus Macgillivray, of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, has been awarded the Military Cross after he led his men over arduous terrain for a successful assault on an enemy compound. | The Independent reports that the Treasury Select Committee has criticised the MOD's aircraft carrier contract with BAE Systems as a 'symptom of wider difficulties in controlling the Defence Budget'.
Christmas celebrations for troops
The Sun claims the MOD is 'cancelling Christmas' for Service personnel. What we are trying to do is ensure public money is spent appropriately. In the UK, all crown servants, including Service personnel, are reminded every year that it is not appropriate to spend public funds on Christmas activities. The restriction placed on public funds is even more necessary this year given the current financial situation. The story relates to a discretionary fund paid for by public money available to Army commanding officers to spend on soldiers under their command, but not on Christmas-related activities. There are a range of other funds that can be used for such activities that are not publicly-funded, such as regimental funds.
The piece also mentions the Armed Forces on the front line and Christmas in Afghanistan. Many personnel work hard to give troops in theatre the best Christmas possible under the circumstances. As they do every year, troops will enjoy a Christmas dinner, a carol service and extra time to call their families over the festive period.
Spokesman for Task Force Helmand, Lieutenant Colonel David Eastman, who is in Afghanistan now, has spoken in strong terms on this issue. He said: "To suggest that commanding officers do not have the support they need to help their soldiers enjoy Christmas is wrong and deeply disappointing.
"Significant effort is put in to ensure all personnel enjoy the best possible Christmas. The Band of the Parachute Regiment are deployed to theatre over the Christmas period, not only to provide entertainment but also temporary relief from soldiering duties to allow troops to celebrate."