Total Page Views


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cameron Vents His Frustration At Military Commanders - Again

The Prime Minister said that he wished they would stick to fighting - and leave him to do the talking

Downing Street's evident irritation at the way senior military commanders keep speaking their mind, rather than parroting the party line from No10, became more pronounced today at a press briefing.

David Cameron said:

"There are moments when I wake up and read the newspapers and think: 'I tell you what, you do the fighting and I'll do the talking'."

Quite. This has had defence officials guffawing all over Whitehall.

Cameron spoke out after the Daily Telegraph was leaked a briefing paper from Air Chief Marshall Sir Simon Bryant, which said that the service was "running hot" and that it would struggle to meet any extra challenges if the Libya operation continued beyond the summer.

He also said that morale in the RAF was very low. It probably plunged a little further over the weekend, when its officers read the report in the Sunday Times that suggested Downing Street was considering proposals to slash the RAF by even more than the 5,000 personnel set out in last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review.

No wonder someone thought of leaking Sir Simon's private thoughts. The First Sea Lord Sir Mark Stanhope made similar remarks last week.

The problem for Cameron is that, however much he sticks his fingers in his ears, there is genuine anxiety within the armed forces about the government's commitment to the military, and how they re expected to cope in the near future.

The Prime Minister is right to say that the Libya operation can continue indefinitely. But Stanhope and Bryant are also right to point out that something else will have to give in the longterm.

And so the argument goes round and round...

The defence select committee will have a chance to get to nub of the problem tomorrow afternoon when General Sir David Richards, chief of the Defence staff, and the Armed Forces minister Nick Harvey, are quizzed by MPs.

No comments:

Post a Comment