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Iran Press TV

UK MPs call parl. debate against army cuts

Iran Press TV

Mon Apr 22, 2013 9:58AM GMT

A group of British Conservative MPs have joined forces to counter cuts to the military personnel, calling for a parliamentary debate to block the Ministry of Defense's cuts plan.

Defense Secretary Philip Hammond is set to reduce the number of regular Army soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000, only compensating the loss with a 15,000 increase in the Territorial Army forces to 30,000.

This comes as any shortfalls are planned to be covered by part-time soldiers.

"The debate will allow us to question whether the increase in reservists is a false economy when compared to retaining regular battalions. The Government appears reluctant to disclose figures and has admitted it costs more to train reservists," said Conservative backbencher John Baron, who is leading the group.

The plans were also criticized by Colonel Bob Steward, MP and former United Nations forces' commander during the Bosnia war, who said members of the Territorial Army cannot be deployed overseas because they simply "don't actually want to".

"The Government's defence plans look like trying to get an army on the cheap. This will reduce the army down to 82,000 - an army of that size is not an army... it's a self defence force," he said.

Steward, who has called the Tuesday debate on the cuts, also said the Ministry of Defense (MoD) "is smoking a lot of dope" if it thinks the plans work out.

The MoD said back in January that redundancy notices would be issued on June 18, as part of plans to reduce the size of the regular army from by 20,000 to 82,000 by 2017.

The third round of job losses, which forms part of the cuts announced in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, will be the largest set of cuts faced by the army so far as the MoD bids to plug a £38bn hole in the defence budget.

The first tranche in September 2011 saw 2,860 forces made redundant while the second in June 2012 involved 3,760.

AMR/HE



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