def061211 - No. 09

Session 2006-07, 13 December 2006

Publication of Report

Publication of Report


The Government should publish the criteria by which it judges its military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to be a success, says a report by the House of Commons Defence Committee published today, Wednesday 13 December (Second Report of Session 2006-07, Ministry of Defence Annual Report and Accounts 2005-06, HC 57).

The report says “we hope that the MoD is right in assessing that it is on course to achieving military objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan but the Annual Report does not provide us with the evidence to support this assessment”. The MPs criticise the MoD’s refusal to provide even a summary of the evidence for its assessment and calls for clear performance indicators in future reports.

The report also highlights undermanning problems in the Armed Forces and says “there is a clear danger that the Armed Forces will not be capable of maintaining current commitments over the medium-term.” The Committee notes that nearly one fifth of personnel are deployed on operations, and says the MoD cannot rely on this being a temporary aberration, but should revise its planning assumptions and its manning requirement to fit the realistic need. The Committee is particularly concerned that operational commitments have led to cuts in training, which it fears could impact on military effectiveness.

The Committee expresses disappointment at the MoD’s poor performance on diversity, noting that none of the Services nor the MoD itself met the targets for recruitment from the black and ethnic minority communities. The MPs say that the Armed Services should reflect the people they serve and the MoD has little grasp of the reasons why they are failing to recruit enough people from ethnic minorities.

The Chairman of the Defence Committee, Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, said: “The MoD’s Annual Report for 2005-06 describes the wide range of activities for which the Department is responsible. Overall performance is satisfactory, but there are a number of aspects of the MoD’s performance-and the way it accounts for that performance-which concern us.

It is just not good enough for the MoD to assure us that it is achieving its objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, without demonstrating how it has reached this conclusion. Of course, the Government cannot publish information which might put the lives of our Service personnel at risk, but we can see no reason why it should not at least tell the public how it measures its effectiveness.

We remain very concerned about the strain that the current level of operations is putting on our Armed Forces and think it is time for the MoD to look again at its planning assumptions. Our Service personnel always rise to the challenges that they are set, but that should not lead us to take them for granted.”


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. News Release: No. 09


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