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BATTLESPACE BOOK CLUB

03 Jul 07. Recruitment and Retention: Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report
The PAC published (3 Jul 07) a Report on Recruitment and Retention in the Armed Forces. In summary, the PAC considers that: “The impact of continuous downsizing, pressures and overstretch is affecting the [MoD’s] ability to retain and provide a satisfactory life for Armed Forces’ personnel.”.
Comment: DNA subscribers may find it useful to refer to page 3 of Issue 07/21 (28 May 07) when reading this Report (since the manning situation, as at 1 Apr 07, was actually worse than the Report implies). The Report is of general interest but does not add much to the earlier National Audit Office work on the same subject(HC 1633 of 3 Nov 06). The PAC Report is available from TSO and from The Parliamentary Bookshop(Tel: 020-7219 3890), as HC 43, for £10:00. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0727, 09 Jul 07)

05 Jul 07. Strategic Lift: Defence Committee Report. The Defence Committee published (5 Jul 07) a Report on Strategic Lift. The Committee concludes that the MoD has made “good progress” in improving its strategic sea-lift but that “progress in improving strategic air-lift has been less good”.
Comment: This Report provides a useful guide but it would have been helpful if some history had been included; particularly those decisions made by the Air Staff 25 years ago which have led to present equipment imbalances. The Report is available from TSO and from The Parliamentary Bookshop, as HC 462, for £15:50. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 0727, 09 Jul 07)

09 Jul 07. Publication of Defence Committee Report and Chairman’s comments. “The MoD is incurring costs in the current financial year on military operations without parliamentary approval and without even providing Parliament with an outline indication of the costs likely to be incurred. This is entirely unacceptable and we cannot understand why the MoD fails to see this.”, says a report by the House of Commons Defence Committee published today (Twelfth Report, Session 2006–07, Ministry of Defence Main Estimates 2007–08, HC 835).The report is published before the House of Commons is asked today to approve the Government’s expenditure plans for the current financial year (the Main Estimates). The Committee points out that the Ministry of Defence’s request for resources of £33.7bn in the Main Estimates does not include the expected costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and so greatly underestimates the total expected cost of the MoD’s activities in 2007-08. The cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were forecast to exceed £1.7bn last year. The Committee says – as it has said in previous reports – that the MoD should include estimated costs of military operations in its Main Estimates, rather than waiting for the Supplementary Estimates later in the year. It recommends that its planning assumptions for the costs of military operations in the financial year ahead. The Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, Chairman of the Defence Committee, says “We are not objecting to the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military operations cannot be done on the cheap, and our troops need to be properly supported in the difficult task that they are doing. Our objection is to the fact that the MoD does not show Parliament the estimated costs of these operations at the beginning of the financial year, in the way that every other Department is required to. We have repeatedly told the MoD that this should change but it continues to act as if it is a law unto itself. Of course, the costs of operations are uncertain, but Parliament and the public have a right to know what the MoD is expecting to spend. We are talking about large amounts of public money here.”

10 Jul 07. Announcement: Publication of Report. Publication of the Defence Committee’s Thirteenth Report: UK operations in Afghanistan. The Defence Committee will be publishing its Thirteenth Report of Session 200

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