Various media continue to cover the comments made by Prime Minister David Cameron following his meeting with the Afghan and Pakistani presidents. He said he hopes that Afghan presidential and parliamentary elections in April 2014 will draw 'moderate elements' of the Taliban into the democratic process before the departure of most NATO troops at the end of 2014. | The Wall Street Journal reports that US Marines deployed in Helmand province since 2009 are set to leave the region this month after securing an area which was once largely in Taliban hands. | The Financial Times reports that Jon Thompson, the MOD's Permanent Secretary, has warned that the department may have to look again at the Strategic Defence and Security Review and 'curtail' plans if government spending on defence does not rise in line with inflation. | The Daily Mirror reports that plans to sign up 30,000 Army reservists have been 'thrown into doubt' after it was revealed that half its careers offices have been closed down. | Various media follow up on Afghan President Hamid Karzai's comments excusing Prince Harry for comparing fighting Taliban members to playing video games.
Soldiers suffering from PTSD
The Sun reports that the number of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has increased significantly since 2008.
Although the rate of PTSD has remained stable since 2003, the numbers of personnel suffering will have steadily increased as the number of personnel who have deployed has increased. However, these figures remain low at a rate of 4% which is broadly in line with the civilian population which shows a range of 3 to 7% for PTSD.
Whilst PTSD affects a small percentage of the Armed Forces, the mental health of our Service personnel is a top priority - that is why this government has committed £7.2 million to improving services. We have robust systems in place, at home and on operations, to help those that need support and we work closely with the Department of Health to smooth the transition from the Armed Forces into the NHS.
House of Commons Defence Committee's report into Defence Acquisition
A number of media outlets cover the findings of a House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) report into Defence Acquisition. Several papers and broadcast coverage focus on the Committee's comments about the government's decision in the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010 to change to the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter.
Responding to the comments in the report, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne said: "The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review decision on carrier strike was right at the time, but, faced with unacceptable cost growth, technical risk and project delays, the decision to revert to the STOVL [short take off and vertical landing] configuration was in the best interest of Defence.
"Purchasing STOVL aircraft ensures the UK will regenerate a carrier strike capability earlier than planned, with the first Lightning II jets arriving in 2016 and the first flights off the Queen Elizabeth in 2018."
Media have also reported criticism made in the HCDC's report about the MOD's procurement process. In response to these comments made by the Committee, Philip Dunne said: "This government has worked tirelessly to eliminate the multi-billion pound black hole we inherited and transform the way we fund and manage the delivery of military equipment.
"Our recently published £160 billion ten-year equipment plan will deliver fully-funded hardware for our Armed Forces, giving them much more certainty. The increased financial contingency will help cover future risk and make our equipment programme affordable. There is also greater information for industry about our priorities, helping them to invest in the future capabilities our troops need.
"The reform of Defence Equipment and Support will further improve our procurement process. As announced last year, a government-owned contractor-operated organisation is our preferred option but further analysis is being carried out before a final decision is made."