def070309 - No 38

Session 2006-07, 9 March 2007

Publication of Special Report

Government acknowledges pressure on Armed Forces’ training

The House of Commons Defence Committee today publishes the Government’s Response to the Committee’s report on the Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06 (Seventh Special Report of Session 2006-07, Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06: Government Response to the Committee’s Second Report of Session 2006-07, HC 376).

The Committee’s report expressed concern that the amount of training for contingent operations has been reduced and that this will impact on military effectiveness and the armed forces’ ability to “fight the next war”. The Government response accepts that the amount of training for contingent operations has been reduced, particularly in the Army, as the emphasis has switched to training for supporting and sustaining current operations.

The Committee expressed concern about Service manning levels. The Government Response draws attention to the recently announced drawdown of forces deployed in Iraq and the Balkans and the introduction of improved financial incentives to aid retention.

The Committee criticised the MoD’s performance against its diversity targets. The Government Response lists the measures that the MoD has introduced to improve the diversity of the armed forces and civilian workforce.

Commenting on the Government Response, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said “I welcome the Government’s considered response to the conclusions in our report. I remain concerned about the impact that the current level of operations is having on the MoD’s ability to achieve its performance targets in a range of areas. Our Armed Forces are only as good as they are because of their training. While the drawdown of forces in Iraq and the Balkans should help alleviate some of the pressure on manning levels and force readiness, the impact on non-operational training remains. If this goes on it is bound to reduce military effectiveness in the longer term”.

Many of these issues are being considered in the Defence Committee’s current inquiry, UK Defence: commitments and resources. The Committee is taking evidence from former senior military officers and academic experts on Tuesday 13 March 2007.


1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Bernard Jenkin MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP

2. The Committee’s report Defence Procurement 2006, First Report of Session 2006-07, HC 56 can be found at:

3. News Release: No. 38


Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, Tel 020 7219 1589/ 07917 488488, email - [email protected]

Specific Committee Information:  Tel 020 7219 5745, email - [email protected]

Committee Website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474).  Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on