Ministry of Defence to axe 1,200 employees

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Ministry of Defence to axe 1,200 employees

Post by Cutaway on Mon 27 Oct 2008, 7:54 pm

THE government is to axe a quarter of the military and civilian staff at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) despite being warned the cuts risk leaving it incapable of predicting threats to the UK or its interests worldwide.
The loss of 1,200 of the 4,330 staff will see every branch of the MoD losing posts, with those dealing with threats to the UK and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan among the worst affected.
The posts being axed include intelligence analysts watching potential threats to the UK; staff officers controlling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and those providing urgently needed equipment to troops.
Documents obtained by the Sunday Times reveal warnings from senior officers in charge of the various branches that the cuts could lead to them not being able to do their job.
Director of Defence Intelligence Air Marshal Stuart Peach warned of a risk of being unable to provide timely intelligence or warning of threats to the UK and its interests abroad.
“Threats may not be foreseen, or not identified in a timely manner,” he said, adding that there would also be a “credibility loss” impacting on our ability to exchange intelligence with the US.
Lt-Gen Andrew Figgures, deputy chief of defence staff in charge of equipment procurement, said he could not see how the cuts could be fully implemented “while the current operational tempo endures”.
Even then they would delay equipment needed for current operations with the staff handling urgent requirements cut by a third making it “more difficult” to support troops dealing with crises abroad.
Lt-Gen Peter Wall, deputy chief of defence staff in charge of operations, warned of the UK headquarters controlling operations in Iraq and Afghanistan not being able to deal with more than one crisis at a time.
He added: “There is a risk that the reductions lead to a number of single points of failure across the organisation” and of a “reduced capacity for concurrent contingency planning”.
Every section of the ministry is being heavily reorganised under the cuts, which will allow the MoD to move staff out of two Whitehall buildings, the old War Office and St George’s Court, concentrating all staff in one building.
The Public and Commercial Services Union, which says the cuts are all about freeing up expensive property in London, is consulting MoD civil servants about possible strike action.
John Hutton, defence secretary, said the cuts were “obviously difficult but unavoidable”, adding: “The trick is to be clear about the absolutely essential areas we’ve got to support.
We’ve got to have an effective procurement operation; an effective operations set-up, and an effective welfare and personnel function.”
But the equipment capability branch, which is in charge of procurement, will be severely hit, losing 139 of its 445 staff, a 31 per cent cut.Policy and commitments, which controls operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, is to have its staff cut from 418 to 350, while personnel loses 217 of its 641 posts, the biggest cut of all.
The cuts to the Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS), which loses 121 of its 592 staff, run in the face of the recommendations of Lord Butler in his review into the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq.
Analysts at the DIS disagreed sharply with the intelligence included in the government’s Iraq dossier and Butler recommended extra funding to allow it have greater influence on national intelligence assessment.
The MoD said: “Streamlining is not about reducing high-priority defence outputs; it is about achieving those outputs more effectively. Operational capacity will not be compromised in any MoD department.”

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