Ministry of Defence hits back at criticism over people management blunders

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has defended its people management record on the day it announced a 2.6% pay rise for members of the Armed Forces.

It hit back at stinging criticism from the Conservative party in the wake of several high-profile blunders in recent weeks.

Bob Ainsworth, minister for the Armed Forces, told Personnel Today: “This government has achieved a great deal to improve the pay, equipment and support for our Armed Forces.”

An RAF officer successfully sued the MoD this week after it was revealed that thousands of servicemen and women were underpaid due to technical faults.

It was also reported that a number of serving or former military personnel whose personal details were on a laptop stolen in Birmingham last month are considering suing.

Reports by the Commons Defence Committee on military personnel leaving the Forces early, and by Brigadier Robert Aitken on the need for better ways of entrenching core values and discipline into the everyday lives of personnel, added to the MoD’s woes.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said: “There has been a catalogue of problems at the MoD in recent months. The contrast between the professionalism of our troops and the incompetence of the MoD grows by the day.”

But Ainsworth countered: “We have just announced a 2.6% pay rise for the Armed Forces. For over a year now, our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have been receiving a £2,320 tax-free operational bonus for every six-month tour, and we have also announced a 25% discount on council tax for all those serving overseas from April this year. We anticipate investing more than £5bn in accommodation over the next decade.

“These measures among others show our commitment to being a good employer. There are challenges in maintaining manning levels and shortages in some specific areas remain. We are taking action to address the effects of this by improving recruitment and retention, and restructuring our Forces to focus effort in those areas in most demand.”

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