London (AFP) Nov 18, 2010
Recent cuts in Britain's military spending have have "badly damaged the confidence and morale" of the armed forces, according to a defence ministry document reveaked by the Telegraph newspaper Thursday.
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) paper, prepared by military officers and senior officials, condemned last month's defence review, said the Telegraph.
They said it for having been carried out too quickly to take account of expert advice and to consult with allies, the paper reported.
"By general consensus, internal communication of the final decision was badly handled," the document said, the Telegraph reported.
"The combination of well-sourced media stories on final decisions...and these restrictions on internal communications have badly damaged the confidence and morale of our personnel."
The document also said that due to the review's tight timetable, responses from international partners "were received only as decisions were being taken."
A ministry spokesman said the document had not been "authorised, requested or seen by an MoD minister."
Senior lawmakers will question Prime Minister David Cameron about the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) later Thursday.
Key decisions made in the review were to axe flagship aircraft carrier Ark Royal, delay the renewal of the country's Trident nuclear deterrent and to cut 20,000 uniform personnel.
Fox has defended the review, although the Telegraph, a right-leaning newspaper which strongly supports the military, has published a letter he sent Cameron in September warning of the "grave" consequences of "draconian" cuts.
While on a visit to Washington Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague reassured the US that it could still support NATO's Afghanistan mission despite the cuts.
"We can do that over these next four years," Hague said. "It is a quite long time. That is the length of the entire First World War."
World leaders are in Lisbon Thursday for a NATO meeting expected to formally endorse a plan to hand over security duties to Afghan forces by 2014.
earlier related report
Citing "financial difficulties", Defence Minister Hans Hillen had informed parliament that "fundamental choices" would have to be made, the ministry said in a statement.
"A large cut in personnel numbers is unavoidable," it said.
"Based on the financial scenarios, one should think along the lines of 10,000 jobs. Forced retrenchments (redundancies) cannot be excluded," it added.
Ministry spokesman Otto Beeksma said the defence force currently counted about 69,000 employees, 19,000 of them civilians and 40,000 military personnel. The cuts would affect both.
More precise figures would become available in the coming months, the statement said.
In September, the Dutch government announced measures to cut government spending by 3.6 billion euros in 2011 to halt rising public debt and aid long-term economic recovery.
Government debt is forecast to grow to a record 66.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) or 406 billion euros in 2011 from 45.3 percent in 2007.
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Alleged Russian arms dealer pleads not guilty
New York (AFP) Nov 17, 2010
Russia's so-called "Merchant of Death," accused of running a global arms empire, pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges here Wednesday, after being extradited from Thailand against Moscow's wishes. "He will plead not guilty," a lawyer for Viktor Bout, 43, said in a New York federal court. Judge Shira Scheindlin then ordered Bout to remain in detention until a hearing set for January 10. ... read more
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