Fox’s cuts bite as new figures reveal plunging troop morale

by Atul Hatwal

As the findings of the Baha Moussa inquiry cast a shadow over the British army, new figures sneaked out by the MoD in the last week lay bare the slump in morale across the armed forces in the past year.

44% of personnel reported low morale in their service – army, navy, royal air force (RAF) or royal marines – according to the 2011 forces survey, a rise of 11% since 2010.

It reverses a five year trend of improving morale in the forces since the survey began in 2007.

The figures were slipped out by the government last Thursday, via the office of national statistics website. Unlike previous surveys, the ministry of defence did not issue a press release or give any indication the survey was being released.

Despite their frontline role in Libya, and the plaudits of the politicians, the RAF emerges as the centre of discontent in the forces.

Just 9% of airmen reported high morale, compared to 62% who felt that their service was characterised by low morale – a jump of 12% over the past year.

In a resounding vote of no confidence in their senior leadership, the RAF officer corps was even more negative – a miniscule 2% reported morale as high.

The findings represent the lowest that morale has been among RAF officers since the survey began five years ago.

These results provide the first hard evidence on the impact that the government’s programme of cuts has had on forces’ morale.

At the time of the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) in October last year, when the first wave of cuts were announced, a secret memo drawn up by defence chiefs claimed that the government’s review process had “badly damaged the confidence and morale of our personnel”.

Liam Fox denied these charges, and has since maintained that there was no link between the cuts and service morale.

But in June, as armed forces day was being marked, rumours of collapsing morale re-surfaced.

The former head of the British army’s bomb disposal team, colonel Bob Seddon, told Channel 4 News that he was concerned about the number of good people who are leaving the army.

“I see some of my senior friends and colleagues who have decided that it’s time to go,” he said.

“But also, critically, going down the ranks, some of those senior captains and junior majors that are absolutely essential to the delivery of operational capability are deciding that it’s time to go. And I must say, it worries me”.

Once again, ministers’ response was to deny any link between their policies and sagging morale.

Now, as the latest results from the MoD’s own armed forces survey have been released, the toll taken on troops’ morale by the cuts is vividly demonstrated.

Liam Fox might have talked about boosting troop numbers when in opposition, but the reality for Britain’s forces with this defence secretary has been broken promises, troop reductions and shattered morale.

While the government basks in the Libyan victory won by the RAF, Dr Fox’s prescription is proving to be bitter medicine for Britain’s fighting men and women.

Atul Hatwal is associate editor of Labour Uncut.

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2 Responses to “Fox’s cuts bite as new figures reveal plunging troop morale”

  1. amarjit says:


  2. swatantra says:

    When jobs are at risk , morale nnaurally goes down.
    Th point is the Defence committments we have t present are overstretched and and we need to downsize and work more closely with our European partners.
    We cannot goit alone.

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