G4S fiasco could lead to longer Afghan tours for troops, officers warn

 

Hundreds of British soldiers face being stuck in Afghanistan for weeks longer than they had expected as a result of the G4S scandal, which has seen 3,500 troops drafted in to provide security during the Olympic Games.

Commanding officers have warned that the additional demands, including delays to training and holidays, could have a knock-on effect on operations and require servicemen and women to extend their six-month tours of duty by up to a month. A senior British Army source yesterday said bomb-disposal personnel were among those most at risk of having to stay longer in the conflict zone.

Some 3,500 servicemen and women will be deployed at the Games after the private firm G4S admitted last week that it had signed up only 4,000 of the 10,400 security staff it had been contracted to provide. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, pledged that all personnel called to work at Olympic venues would not lose leave, "even if it has to be rescheduled".

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is believed to be trying to keep the number of operationally deployable soldiers used at the Olympics to a minimum, to relieve pressure on the Afghan operation.

An MoD spokeswoman yesterday said concerns over the impact on Afghanistan "have not been mentioned" at the department. She added: "Afghanistan remains the priority for the MoD. This [Olympic deployment] is really important to us and it is going to mean changes, but we can't affect operations overseas to conduct domestic duties."

But one officer said that many personnel preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in October, as part of Operation Herrick 17, had been warned that they could be staying longer than expected.

He added: "If the Government wants to allow everyone to get their holidays in after the Olympics, there will be a knock-on effect, as some of these will inevitably be due to go to Afghanistan next year.

"Either they reduce the length of pre-deployment training for the next group, or they let them arrive in Afghanistan later. There is an expectation that the tour dates will be affected."

Patrick Mercer, a Conservative MP and former Army officer, said the particular demands of supporting thousands of troops at the Olympics would have a direct effect on the British effort in Afghanistan. He said: "The large number of soldiers who have been called up to the Olympics will have to be supported.

"There are a number of specialist troops, including the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, signals, catering and ordnance disposal, who are very likely to be extended in Afghanistan as a result."

Forces personnel and families last year warned that individuals and their close relations, especially children, would suffer most from extended tours, after it emerged that the Government was considering doubling the standard tour length to 12 months.

Labour's defence spokesman, Kevan Jones, said last night: "It is shocking that the frontline in Afghanistan could be hit by the Government's Olympic security shambles. Full training is essential and tours are carefully planned to maximise strength. Compromising either would have very real military implications."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
British musician Mark Ronson arrives for the UK premiere of the film 'Mortdecai'
music
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
people
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us