"The report declares: "The impact of continuous
downsizing, pressures and overstretch is affecting the [defence]
department's ability to retain and provide a satisfactory life for
Armed Forces personnel."
It stresses that in the
past six years, the Services have been operating above the most
demanding level of operations envisaged by defence planners at the turn
of the century. But the Ministry of Defence has not adjusted manning
Edward Leigh, the committee's Conservative
chairman, said: "The staffing situation has reached the point where
there are simply not enough service people to meet levels of military
activity planned some years ago - let alone the heightened demands now
being placed on them by commitments such as the Iraq and Afghanistan
report says that at present the Armed Forces are 5,850 personnel, or
3.2 per cent, below strength and the MoD has failed to achieve its
targets for manning levels."
These commitments are not a surprise that has sprung upon us in the last few years. Political management breeds short-termism as ministers move from post to post too quickly to be properly held accountable in their job or understand the nature of the challenge facing a department. That means proper planning isn't carried out and the armed forces are left without sufficient equipment or manpower.