The Houses of Parliament returned from recess on Monday. Both houses will remain sitting until the Easter recess break which begins on 10 April.
Defence Minister Anna Soubry has announced the start of the triennial review of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body (AFPRB), an advisory non-departmental public body which provides independent advice to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence on remuneration and charges for members of the armed forces. The review will be conducted in accordance with Government guidance for reviewing NDPBs and will focus on the core questions of effectiveness and good governance. It will be carried out in an open and transparent way, and interested stakeholders will be given the opportunity to contribute their views.
- Training courses for reservists cancelled due to recruitment shortfall
- British combat veterans four times less likely to get PTSD than Americans
- HMS Dauntless abandons exercise after technical trouble
Training courses for reservists cancelled due to recruitment shortfall
The Daily Telegraph reports that the Army has had to cancel training courses for hundreds of new reservists next year amid the on-going recruitment crisis. Personnel files seen by the Daily Telegraph show defence chiefs have cut eight infantry courses for a total of 400 reservist recruits because they could not fill the places. At the same time, at least three basic training courses for regulars at Catterick have been cut because there are too few new soldiers to take part. Courses which have gone ahead have sometimes been halved in size “due to there being no recruits”.
Defence sources said the courses were culled late last year in the face of disastrous recruiting figures and the fallout from a bungled project to outsource recruitment paperwork to the services firm Capita. The MOD has denied the cancellations are due to poor recruitment and says the majority of courses are still going ahead. Officers admit they may have to cancel more as the year goes on if the recruitment does not pick up. Senior officers are now warning of a “black hole” of shortages which could move up through the ranks causing manning problems for years.
Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker said it was “the latest worrying episode in a series of crises affecting recruitment to the Army” and called for the Government to pause further redundancies to the regular Army until it gets reserve recruitment back on track. However, an MOD spokesperson said it was “completely wrong” to claim that reserves training has been cancelled as a result of poor recruitment.
British combat veterans four times less likely to get PTSD than Americans
A report by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research at King’s College London has found that British combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are up to four times less likely to suffer PTSD than their American counterparts. The report reviewed research into troops’ mental health and found that around 7% of British combat troops suffered PTSD, whereas US studies showed that the figure was 29% for American troops. The researchers largely attributed the difference to American troops serving abroad for 12 months, double that of their British counterparts; however they also said that British troops also receive better health care. Dr Deirdre MacManus, lead author of the study, said that UK military personnel have remained “relatively resilient” in spite of the stresses endured in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, the report also found that British troops were more likely to drink to dangerous levels. It said that “harmful drinking” was a cause for concern, with one in five British regulars drinking too much.
HMS Dauntless abandons exercise after technical trouble
The Telegraph reports that HMS Dauntless has been forced to abandon a training exercise after experiencing technical trouble. The warship, which is one of the UK’s newest and most expensive vessels had to head back to port for emergency repairs after losing power. The air defence destroyers carry a crew of 190 and they will play a vital role in defending Britain’s new aircraft carriers when they are completed. The Telegraph says that the Type 45 destroyers have suffered a number of “teething problems” and experts say that the ships’ new integrated electric propulsion system was behind the majority of the issues. The MOD said the issue would have no impact of HMS Dauntless‘s future operational programme.