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: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Media Sales Professional - Work From Home

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Enjoying rapid growth we contin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A church in South Carolina burns after a fire breaks out on June 30, 2015  

America knows who has been burning black churches, but it refuses to say

Robert Lee Mitchell III
England's Jodie Taylor, left, and Jill Scott celebrate Taylor's goal against Canada during the first half in a quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup  

Women's World Cup: We should be able to praise England's Lionesses without shaming the men's team

Charlie Webster
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map