Leading article: Overstretched and underfunded

Share

As government finances are increasingly squeezed, the air is filled with special pleading. But in the case of our armed services, they seem to plead with a particular urgency. Only a day after a coroner blamed the "chaotic" military supply chain for the death of Fusilier Gordon Gentle in Iraq, a group of former senior commanders and politicians yesterday issued a public plea for more funds for our armed services. British forces, argued the newly formed UK National Defence Association, are overstretched, undermanned and underfunded. It cannot go on. Either the funds will have to be increased, the strategy re-evaluated, or they will face breaking point.

Some of this can be put down to the usual complaints of interest groups. There is also a real danger that the cause of the armed services could be diluted rather than promoted by the sheer number of pressure groups that now represent them. The new National Defence Association joins several dozen such groups urging the Government to give more funds to the services.

But on the basic analysis there can be little dispute. It has always been the nature of Britain's foreign ventures that we undertake them reluctantly, and usually accidentally, and then deprive the forces of the funds needed for the job. And in the present case, the soldiers, airmen and seamen and women of the British forces have special reason to feel aggrieved. The country's leaders have committed them to a succession of ventures abroad, but the Ministry of Defence has singularly failed to provide them with the basic equipment, supplies and above all protection they have required. The soldiers in the field have been constantly constrained by communications systems that don't operate, guns that don't fire and vehicles that break down. Belatedly, and under pressure, the Government has started to rectify this with increased funds. But there is still the feeling among the services that it is too little, too late.

Of course, one could ask whether the Government should cut its commitments rather than double the resources going to such ventures as Afghanistan. One might well ask also whether the Prime Minister is wise to commit himself to an expensive replacement for Trident rather than concentrate his resources on our overstretched conventional forces.

Yet, regardless of these valid questions, the central disgraceful fact remains that while our politicians proclaim their support for "the brave men and women of our forces", they are loading them up with ever increasing obligations and without the necessary equipment to do the job. It's time for a rethink of both the objectives and the means.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Education Editor: This shocking abuse of teachers should be taken seriously

Richard Garner
Brand loyalty: businessmen Stuart Rose (pictured with David Cameron at the Conservative conference in 2010) was among the signatories  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?