Vernon Coaker MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, responding to the publication of the National Audit Office report in to the Ministry of Defence’s Army 2020 plans, said:
“This devastating report points to a litany of errors and serious failings at the Ministry of Defence under David Cameron.
“Defence Ministers were warned that these plans would not work unless they were properly tested and monitored. They were told that front-loading cuts to the Army and back-ending recruitment to the Reserves would leave the Armed Forces under strength. They didn’t listen and now they’re in a complete mess.
“After thousands of redundancies in the Regular Army and no progress made in recruiting and integrating Reserves, it’s no surprise to learn that Armed Forces personnel’s confidence in the government’s plans has plummeted.
“These ill-thought out and badly prepared plans are in danger of collapse. The implementation of Army 2020 needs to be revisited and there should be a pause in any further redundancies until we see a significant increase in Reserve recruitment. Otherwise, we risk leaving Britain’s Armed Forces with a dangerous capability gap.
Findings quoted directly from the Report:
* “The trained strength of the Army Reserve has not increased since April 2012. At April 2012, the trained strength of the Army Reserve was 19,410. As at April 2014, the trained strength of the Army Reserve was 19,400. This is some 600 above the target of 18,800 set by the Department in December 2013. There has not been a significant growth in the overall trained strength of the Army Reserve in the last two years.”
* “Recruitment of reserve and regular soldiers is behind the requirement set by the Army for 2013-14.”
* “The Department did not test whether increasing the trained strength of the Army Reserve to 30,000 was feasible.”
* “The Department’s recruitment targets for reserves are not underpinned by robust planning data.”
* “Reducing the size of the Army will not alone deliver the financial savings required.”
* “The Department did not fully assess the value for money of its decision to reduce the size of Army.”
* “The Department’s 2014 Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey data show that 65 per cent of regular Army respondents’ believe regular and reserve forces are not well integrated, compared to 44 per cent in 2011. Regular Army respondents’ views of the professionalism and value of reserves have also declined over the same period.”
Figures from the Report
* 7,947 Army personnel selected for redundancy between 2011 and May 2014.
* 11,000 minimum increase in trained Army reserves, from 19,000, needed by the end of 2018-19.
* 1,975 reserve soldiers recruited by Capita in 2013-14 against a December 2012 Army Demand Plan requirement of 6,000.
* 3,184 regular Army training places unfilled in 2013-14, from a planned allocation of 9,382 places.