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Defence review must address low readiness of UK forces, say MPs

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

London, Feb 10, IRNA -- The government’s planned Strategic Defence Review should take account of the current low readiness levels of the Armed Forces and the need for their effective recuperation, the Defence Select Committee said Wednesday.

In a report on the readiness and recuperation of the Armed Forces, the all-party parliamentary committee took evidence on the impact of current operations on UK Armed Forces which are under heavy pressure from years of operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report found that troops have been deployed above the Defence Planning Assumptions, the level at which they are structured and funded, for seven years.

It was “unsatisfactory” that readiness levels have been allowed to fall to the extent that they have, said the MPs, calling for a review of the utility and content of the Defence Planning Assumptions and readiness targets.

Committee chair James Arbuthnot said that readiness levels are low but that this does not mean that the Armed Forces are not prepared for the current operation in Afghanistan nor that they could not react in an emergency.

“There are encouraging signs that readiness has improved since the withdrawal from Iraq. But the Strategic Defence Review will need to take account of the current low readiness levels of the Armed Forces and the urgent need for recuperation," Arbuthnot said.

The report noted several shortfalls in terms of the forces' readiness to perform important tasks, like the cancellation of major joint exercises and lack of training in taking off from aircraft carriers at night that are not directly connected with the Afghan war.

The Ministry of Defence should make “training for those capabilities which have not been exercised in recent or current operations a priority for recuperation,” it said.

The Committee further warned that the Strategic Defence Review should not be solely a defence concern, but needed to be set in the context of a UK Strategy encompassing the National Security Strategy and UK foreign policy and involve other government departments as appropriate.

The next government after the forthcoming elections will have to “accept the financial realities of the day but be aware of the risk that an early stringency budget might prejudge the outcome of the Strategic Defence Review,” it also said.

“It is easy to lose sight of the fact that one of the core businesses of Government is the defence of the country and of national interests, and that is every bit as true during difficult financial times as during more settled ones,” Arbuthnot said.

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End News / IRNA / News Code 954057



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