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Hard work in 2012 rewarded with holidays

British Army personnel have been granted an extra five days' holiday this Christmas in recognition of their hard work in 2012.

Staff who are not essential to supporting operations have been given 25 days' leave between 14 December and 7 January to say thank you for their service during the London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee.

The extra holiday will allow buildings to be closed, cutting utility costs. But Richard Kemp, a former commander of UK ground forces in Afghanistan, told The Sunday Times that the move was "an act of sheer desperation by military commanders starved of cash by the Government".

"The troops themselves will welcome the extra time off. But to an Army at war this sends an insulting and morale-sapping message that makes it entirely clear just where spending priorities do not lie."