Various papers report that President Hamid Karzai has suspended talks currently underway in Kabul on a bilateral security agreement with the US. | Various papers report that 4 American soldiers were killed in an attack on Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base yesterday. | Various media report that the Supreme Court is today due to rule on whether families of soldiers killed fighting in Iraq can bring damages claims against the government. | The Independent reports on what has been happening to Britain's military equipment in Afghanistan. | The Daily Mirror reports that there has been an alarming surge in Afghan civilian casualties since the beginning of the year; there are claims that the number of deaths has gone up by 30% compared with the same period last year. | The Guardian reports that a lawyer for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has accused the authorities in his country of showing a 'blatant disregard' for the International Criminal Court by announcing they will put him on trial in August. | The Telegraph reports that Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has indicated that the UK is prepared to develop a new generation of 'killer robots' to protect troops on the battlefield. | The Daily Mirror reports that taxpayers face a bill of up to £2 million for the respraying of 150 Army Land Rovers lent to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for the duration of the G8 Summit. | The Financial Times reports that senior figures in MOD are said to have expressed growing confidence that the military will avoid further manpower cuts in next week's Spending Review. | The Daily Mail reports that the French defence budget is £6 billion less than the UK's, yet its armed forces have 72,000 more personnel, 51 more jets, a bigger naval fleet, 2,000 more armoured vehicles and a truly independent nuclear deterrent. | The Sun reports that Staff Sergeant Patrick Price has been convicted at a court martial for his part in the accidental shooting of Fusilier James Wilkinson. His conviction follows the earlier guilty plea of Corporal Colin Bell. Both men will be sentenced next month.
Yesterday the Ministry of Defence announced that, in a third tranche of Army redundancies, 4,480 soldiers have been selected to be made redundant. Much of the coverage implies that a high application rate of 84% is a reflection of low morale within the Army, suggesting that soldiers were choosing to leave before being compulsorily removed.
Elsewhere, further coverage claims that reducing the Regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000 will leave the Armed Forces undermanned and unable to sustain operational capability. There has also been critical commentary suggesting the redundancy notifications were announced on the same day as 'Milestone 13'. This is inaccurate. The redundancy notification date was announced in January and was in no way deliberately conflated with the Afghan Government's announcement on the final stage of security transition.
The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond yesterday set out the reasons behind the redundancies, saying: "As we restructure the British Army to the size and configuration set out under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, it is with great regret that we have had to make redundancies to deliver the reduction in the size of the Armed Forces, but unfortunately they were unavoidable due to the size of the defence deficit that this government inherited."
He added: "Although smaller, our Armed Forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future with the protection and equipment they need. They will continue to be the bedrock of our society and provide extremely rewarding and exciting careers for future recruits."
The number of applications for redundancy should not be used as an indicator of morale due to the fact that the Army has deliberately set out to maximise applicants by offering a generous redundancy package and comprehensive resettlement support to assist personnel with the transition back into civilian life.
The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said yesterday: "This redundancy scheme is a difficult but essential step towards our Army 2020 structure. We owe our sincere gratitude to those leaving the Army for their service over such a demanding period of operations. We will support them and their families as best we can on their path to civilian life. Meanwhile we continue to need plenty of young and talented recruits to ensure the Army is fit to meet the challenges of the future."
In 2010 the Strategic Defence and Security Review was designed to provide a future force structure to meet the demands of current operations and future threats, as well as to ensure the Armed Forces will be manned appropriately to provide the required level of operational capability.
Although making personnel redundant, it is essential that the Army continues to recruit into its junior ranks every year to provide its future leaders. The Army needs to develop its own leaders; it cannot bring people from the outside into these leadership roles without the necessary military experience. Because of this, the Army needs to replace those who are promoted every year with new talent.
Finally, it should be noted that the civilian arm of Defence continues to play its part in finding efficiency savings. In 2013 the number of full-time equivalent civilian staff decreased from 83,000 as at 1 April 2010, to 63,080 as at 1 April 2013. This is a decrease of 19,920 (24%) since April 2010.