Armed Forces face thousands of job cuts

Defence
secretary Geoff Hoon has announced large cuts in the Armed Forces as part of
modernisation plans.

By
2008, the RAF will shed 7,500 jobs, 1,500 will be lost in the Navy, and a
further 10,000 civilian posts will also be cut. Aircraft, tank and ship numbers
will also be reduced.

The
details follow Hoon’s White Paper Security in a Changing World, presented to
the Commons in December.

The
Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to invest heavily in hi-tech digital
systems to enable it to work closely with US forces.

Opposition
MPs criticised the move at a time when global uncertainty is at its highest.

Liberal
Democrat MP Paul Keetch said: "Iraq has shown that winning the peace needs
more troops on the ground than winning the war. A bit of spare capacity would
have been a good insurance policy."

The
shake-up follows Chancellor Gordon Brown’s announcement that the MoD would
receive a 1.4 per cent annual real-terms increase in its budget over the next
three years.

But
he also demanded £2.8bn in savings on the procurement of equipment and
back-room support functions by 2007-08.

Overall,
the budget for Armed Forces is to rise by £3.7bn, from £29.7bn this year, to
£33.4bn by 2007-8.

By Daniel Thomas     

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