British military 'not overstretched': defence official

October 24th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: British military 'not overstretched': defence official

Media: AFP
Date: 24 October 2006

LONDON, Oct 24, 2006 (AFP) - A senior defence ministry official insisted
Tuesday that British forces were "stretched" but not "overstretched" by
deployments in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots.

Bill Jeffrey, a top civil servant, admitted that the military was under
strain but declined to say how close it was to being unable to cope with
the demands placed upon it.

Jeffrey said the rest period between missions was the measure used to judge
how much the military was under strain -- and fewer than one in seven
soldiers is getting the amount of rest time the ministry thinks necessary
between intensive operations.

"The word overstretch implies that what we are doing now is not
sustainable. We do not believe that to be the case," Jeffrey told the House
of Commons defence committee scrutiny body.

"The assessment is that our armed forces are stretched but not
overstretched," he said, calling it "very hard to say" how close to that
point British forces had got.

"There's no reason to suspect we cannot undertake our commitments."

However, he added: "If there were serious proposals now to engage in
further major deployments ministers would, I am sure, decide they were not
able to do it."

He said expected troop reductions in Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland next
year should ease the situation.

Britain has around 5,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan and about 7,000 on
duty in southern Iraq.

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