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07 Dec 06. Former Army chief criticises MoD. General Sir Mike Jackson, the former head of the Army, has criticised the way in which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) runs the armed forces. Speaking at the annual Dimbleby Lecture, he said soldiers’ wages were “hardly impressive” and “some accommodation” was “frankly, shaming”. But the MoD said it was always working to improve conditions for its forces. Conservative defence spokesman Dr Liam Fox said Sir Mike’s comments were damning for the government. Sir Mike retired as the head of the Army in August. Questioning the MoD’s understanding of the fundamental ethos of the armed forces, he told his audience: “One’s loyalty must be from the bottom. “Sadly, I did not find this fundamental proposition shared by the MoD.” He suggested that not enough was being done to care for servicemen and women, as well as their families. “Not much over £1,000 a month for the private soldier for what he or she is doing on operations is hardly an impressive figure,” said Sir Mike. He went on to add that “some accommodation is still, frankly, shaming and hemmed around by petty regulation”. The former Army chief told his audience it was “time that real authority was restored to the Chiefs of Staff in order to match the responsibility which indubitably and rightly they carry”. He also hit out at the “diminution” of the authority of chiefs of staff – his former role at the Army. Sir Mike later turned his attention to the culture of “commercial so-called ‘best practice’, with its… targets”. During his speech, he hit out at a “Kafka-esque situation whereby the MoD congratulates itself on achieving an accommodation improvement plan defined by itself on what it calls affordability, but which is far from what is defined by the needs of soldiers and their families”. Dr Liam Fox told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Sir Mike’s attacks fell into two areas. “First was this target culture of the MoD and it’s a culture which is indicative, I’m afraid, of how the current government does business cross-departments,” the Conservative defence spokesman said. “They measure not what is necessary but what is measurable and therefore you very often end up with results which suit the government statisticians but not those who are actually on the front line. “And the second general attack he was making was that what we are being asked to do at the present time is too much with too little. “We’re actually spending 2.5% of our GDP this year – which is our lowest since 1930 – but at a time when our commitments are rising.” BBC defence correspondent Paul Adams said the comments were “bound to cause offence in some circles” and were likely to be “taken seriously” by those high up within the MoD. We are always striving to make things better for our forces and we are always open to informed criticism. “I’m sure there will be those who raise a glass because they don’t like the MoD either.” But our correspondent went on to say Sir Mike was “not universally respected”, adding that some people may think “it is a bit late to stand up for the common soldier”, given his recent retirement. A spokesman for the MoD said: “General Jackson is fully entitled… to voice his opinion on these important issues.” He added the MoD was “staffed by civil servants and members of the Armed Forces working closely together… with a clear sense that their priority is to support our forces on the front line”. “While we do not agree with everything Sir Mike has said, we are always the first to recognise – for example in relation to medical services and accommodation – that although we have delivered real improvements, there is more we can do. “We are always striving to make things better for our forces and we are always open to informed criticism.” (Source: BBC)

25 Nov 06. Iraq: OP TELIC. The soldier who died of gunshot wounds on 24 Nov 06 was named as Sergeant J Hollingsworth of The Parachute Regiment. (MoD, 25 Nov 06.) When asked whether Ira

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