Monday, Oct 27, 2008
The new Defence Secretary, John Hutton, has backed the creation of a European fighting force, provoking anger from some who claim it will stretch our Armed Forces further.
Mr Hutton said the plan, which is one of the main priorities of French president Nicolas Sarkozy during his six-month European presidency, was “perfectly sensible”, provided it did not impact on Britain’s standing within Nato or compromise currennt operations.
But the Conservatives said it risked undermining Nato, while military welfare campaigners questioned how the force would be funded.
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In an interview aimed at showing a renewed Government commitment to Britain’s Armed Forces, Mr Hutton admitted that the current welfare situation for service personnel was “not as it should be”, with too few breaks between deployments, but insisted that services morale remained “extraordinarily high”.
Fresh from a recent trip to Afghanistan, he said the “poisinous cocktail” of Islamic extremism, 30 years of civil war, a thriving narcotics trade and powerful warlords mean British forces could remain committed to the country for “decades”.
He also echoed the call of the new head of the Armed Forces, General Sir David Richards, for a surge in Nato troop levels to be able to vanquish the Taliban.
This article was posted: Monday, October 27, 2008 at 4:52 am