Ex-forces chief hits at lack of funding

Author: By Laura May, Press Association

Former chief of the defence staff General Lord Guthrie told the Daily Mail
that commanders on the ground were struggling with too few troops.

He said an officer had admitted to him that “the Treasury had affected
the operational safety of our soldiers, by preventing an uplift in our
numbers”.

And he said that when troops went into the country in 2006, they suffered from
a lack of funds as a result of the “unsympathetic view” the
then-chancellor Gordon Brown and his Treasury had of defence.

“They were prepared to give very large amounts of money to other
departments, but the minimum they could get away with to defence.”

He said UK commanders wanted 2,000 more troops to “enable them to carry
out operations and hold ground which has been seized, denying the
opportunity for the Taliban to return”.

Funding for more helicopters, he said, could have prevented soldiers being
killed by roadside bombs.

Last month Lord Guthrie said the planned inquiry into the Iraq war was
unlikely to examine Mr Brown’s role, as former chancellor, in failing to
equip troops properly.

He told The Times: “Although the equipment is excellent now, initially
and subsequently in Iraq, it was very poor, and if Gordon Brown as
chancellor had been more sympathetic, it would have kept people alive.”

Former SAS commander Lord Guthrie was head of the British Army until 1997 and
then chief of defence staff until 2001.

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