As usual when there is bad news Gordon is to be found in his bunker.
As the Telegraph says
This pitiful assurance was given in vain. The poor bloody infantry on the Labour backbenches reckon their commander, Gordon Brown, has flung them into yet another unwinnable battle, with the result that hundreds of them are going to lose their seats at the next general election.
…Nobody said as much, but the sad truth was that Mr Rammell got shot because Mr Brown was hiding in the Downing Street bunker. One of the most outspoken mutineers, Lindsay Hoyle (Lab, Chorley), said he regretted having to fire on Mr Rammell: “I’m sorry for the minister that he’s become an apologist for a crass decision.”
Now I know it’s the MOD that supposedly recommended these cutbacks but surely there were better ways of saving £20 million than this. The TA have been a vital resource for the regular army for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and treating them like this is very poor reward for the service they offer.
The debate forced on the government by this decision makes for interesting reading. Even my own MP managed to speak on this issue.
Mark Lancaster a serving TA officer made these very valid points during the debate.
Drill nights are absolutely vital for the reasons that I have stated, and unless we can get them back I fear for the TA, which cannot simply be mothballed and reopened in six months. Once we lose the culture of attending a drill night on a Tuesday or Wednesday, pretty soon that slot will be filled with something else. People will start going to the cinema with their wives, and it will be almost impossible to get them back in on a Tuesday night. We should not forget that a TA soldier will be paid just one quarter of a day’s pay for a drill night. They may receive two or two-and-a-half days’ pay for a weekend, so they can do three months of training on drill nights for the equivalent. That is why the concession is so minor. I believe that the Minister said today that giving one drill night back would cost £2.5 million, but that is relatively small beer in the MOD budget. That is why this is such a penny-pinching move, why it will ultimately be so damaging to the Territorial Army and why I call on him to think again, give greater concessions and allow more drill nights.
Much of the debate has focused on training, and the Minister has made it clear that he is convinced that all soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan will receive the appropriate pre-deployment training. Let us be clear that regular units—formed units—may undergo some 18 months of pre-deployment training before they are deployed on operations. At best, a TA soldier can currently expect to be mobilised some three months before being deployed to Afghanistan, the process culminating in two weeks’ testing at the reserve training and mobilisation centre at Chilwell. That is not always the case; colleagues of mine have been mobilised at just three days’ notice and have gone straight to the RTMC to be tested.
The proposal is to have a system where the RTMC will no longer be testing soldiers—it will be training them. Already soldiers are being deployed to Afghanistan at risk. The Minister said in the statement that no TA soldier will be deployed at risk, but that was wrong. This is a technical point, but I am concerned that if we are no longer simply testing at RTMC, but training there too, we will be deploying even more soldiers at greater risk. That is fundamentally unacceptable.
The TA contains specialists—I am a bomb disposal officer, although I am not currently in that role. Is the Minister really expecting specialists such as me—a bomb disposal officer—to be able to maintain their skills and potentially be deployed to Afghanistan having had no training for six months? That is ridiculous. I heard what was said by my colleagues at the meeting that the Minister attended this afternoon, so I know that he is beginning to realise the strength of the feeling in all parts of the House—it is being shown in this debate tonight—that this is a fundamentally flawed decision.
I cannot agree with him more a fundamentally flawed decision made by a fundamentally flawed government.
Armed Forces minister shot in back by own side – Telegraph.