Defence Committee Press Notice

Session 2008-09, 17 December 2008

New Inquiry

New Inquiry


The Defence Committee is today announcing its second inquiry of 2009, which will be into readiness and recuperation. This will examine the Armed Forces' current state of readiness, the nature and extent of gaps in current readiness, and how force elements will be recuperated back to the required level of readiness.

In 2007-08 the Ministry of Defence failed to meet its Public Service Agreement Target 3, "to generate forces which can be deployed, sustained and delivered at the scales of effort required to meet the government's strategic objectives". This was in large part down to a particular failure to meet the target of 73% of force elements showing no serious or critical weakness against their required peacetime readiness levels. On average between April 2007 and March 2008 only 58% of force elements could show no such weaknesses. In the first quarter of 2008-09, despite some relaxation to the targets for certain force elements, readiness further declined to 39%. The average over year 2005-06 was 77%.

The principal cause of this stark decline in readiness has been high operational tempo over the last six years. As the MoD's Annual Report and Accounts for 2007-08 says: "for the sixth consecutive year in 2007-08, the Armed Forces continued to operate above the level of concurrent operations which they are resourced and structured to sustain over time". This means the UK Armed Forces are not as ready as they ought to be to meet challenges that might arise at any time, outside current commitments overseas.

In order to reach the targets that the MoD has set for readiness, force elements will have to be recuperated. Readiness is measured in terms of manpower, equipment, training and sustainability; recuperation will have to address not just issues of damaged or worn equipment, but also personnel and training issues, as well as the matter of how to sustain new operations over time.

The Committee is particularly interested in:

  • the extent to which shortcomings in current readiness are the result of operational tempo or rather decisions about the funding of force elements not currently involved in operations;
  • the balance to be sought between recuperating force elements whose readiness has slipped through lack of employment in current operations (and consequent diversion of funding) and those which need to be recuperated on the basis of recent intense use;
  • the balance in priorities for recuperation between manpower, equipment, training and sustainability ; and
  • the role of industry in the recuperation of the Armed Forces.
  • the likely costs of and time-scale for the recuperation of the Armed Forces, and how such recuperation will be funded;

The Committee expects to take oral evidence on readiness and recuperation on the first two Tuesdays in February in the House of Commons. The Committee would welcome written evidence to this inquiry which should be sent to the Clerk of the Defence Committee by Monday 19 January 2009. Those wishing to attend the planned oral evidence session should check the exact venue by contacting the House of Commons Public Information Office on 020 7219 4272 on the day before the hearing.


Submissions should be in Word or rich text format and sent by e-mail to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions should be as brief as possible, and paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference. Longer documents should include an executive summary.

Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the Committee to discuss this.

Personal information, such as address and contact details, should be provided separately from the body of your submission. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, no public use should be made of the submission unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.


The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. The Defence Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.


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