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Archbishop warns defence cuts risk UK's safety

The Archbishop of York has warned that severe defence cuts in Britain will "risk the safety of the nation and the peace of the world".

While delivering his Christmas message to armed forces serving overseas, Dr John Sentamu said Government plans to replace thousands of full-time soldiers with reservists was a bad idea as a "very well trained, professional service" needed to be maintained.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has issued a warning over defence cuts Credit: ITV News

He told the British Forces Broadcasting Service, "My greatest anxiety ... is that these defence cuts need to be done with far, far greater sensitivity because we live still in a world that is very fragile and there are people out there still, wanting to do harm to ... many, many people".

"To replace professionally-trained, full-time serving soldiers with part-timers, I'm afraid, for me, I don't think that can be the backbone of the British Army," the Archbishop continued.

He also paid tribute to the British forces' role as peacekeepers in Afghanistan, calling them "the bravest of the brave", and said he prayed daily for them.


Archbishop of York: Defence cuts 'compromise UK safety'

The Archbishop of York warned that defence cuts will compromise Britain's safety as he delivered his Christmas message overseas. In an interview with British Forces Broadcasting Service, Dr John Sentamu said:

"My greatest anxiety... is that these defence cuts need to be done with far, far greater sensitivity because we live still in a world that is very fragile and there are people out there still, wanting to do harm to ... many, many people.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu warns of consequences over defence cuts. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

He added: "To replace professionally trained, full time serving soldiers with part-timers, I'm afraid, for me, I don't think that can be the backbone of the British army."

A smaller MoD head office focused on 'strategic direction'

The Ministry of Defence has described the Armed Forces as 'top heavy' Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Acting Permanent Under-Secretary Tom McKane said of the plans to cut up to a quarter of senior military and civilian posts in the Armed Forces: "All parts of defence are being restructured as we transform the way the Ministry of Defence does business, and head office is no exception.

"A smaller head office focused on strategic direction and policy, which hands more responsibility to the frontline commands, allows for a better-run organisation."

Defence secretary: We can't ignore senior posts in defence cuts

The defence secretary Philip Hammond has said he can't go ahead with sweeping cuts to the Armed Forces with also cutting senior positions. He said:

At a time when we are making difficult decisions about defence spending and have had to accept reductions across the board, we cannot ignore the volume of posts at the top.

For too long the MoD has been top-heavy, with too many senior civilians and military.

Not only does this new structure reduce senior staff posts by up to a quarter in the next two years but it allows clear strategic priorities to be set for the Armed Forces.

It will hold the frontline commands to account for their delivery and support them in the tasks they are set.

– Philip Hammond MP, Defence Secretary

MoD will shrink after cuts to senior jobs

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Head Office is to become smaller after plans to cut up to 25% of senior civilian and military staff over the next two years, the defence secretary Philip Hammond has said.

A new senior structure will come into force from April 2013 with fewer senior positions. It is to save the MoD about £3.8m annually.

About 26 civilian and military jobs at Senior Civil Service level - which is equivalent to Commodore, Brigadier and Air Commodore or above - will disappear.

The new Head Office will concentrate more on strategy. In future, it will not get involved in day-to-day management. Frontline commands will be in charge of looking after their own finances.


Ex-servicemen: Army cuts will 'devastate morale'

Families of serving and fallen soldiers, along with ex-servicemen and women, held small-scale demonstrations today across the country against proposed Government cuts to the Army.

They explained their opposition to the plans to merge regiments:

The Government is planning to cut 30,000 troops by 2020 and, being an ex-serviceman myself, I feel it is unnecessary as currently there are more people leaving than joining up, so if we take into account natural wastage we would get the same result without disbanding regiments.

We know there are wars in Afghanistan and problems in Iraq and Syria and we never know when we are going to be called to a conflict.

– Stephen Martin, 57, who served in the Royal Artillery Corps

These cuts will have a devastating effect on the morale of the troops. Not just the cuts but the way the troops are being treated. They are being treated as a stop-gap measure for this Government, for anything they got wrong.

Plus, you've got civilian people being brought in, for instance for the Olympic Games, being given tremendous bonuses and extra pay and there's the poor troops being brought in and put down on cots in warehouses and still expected to do the same job.

– Neil McKinnon, who was a corporal from 1964 to 1976

Former soldiers and families hold silent protest at army cuts

Demonstrations are being held across the country today over the Government's plans to cut the size of the army.

In Manchester, families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan joined ex-servicemen and women in a protest at the city's cenotaph, as ITV Granada reported.

Families and former servicemen and women at the Manchester cenotaph. Credit: Elaine Willcox

Ex-servicemen and families of soldiers also gathered in Leicester to pay their respect to the dead and protest the Government's plan to merge regiments, as ITV Central reported.

A wreath was laid at the war memorial in Victoria Park in Leicester. Credit: ITV Central
An ex-serviceman pays his respect. Credit: ITV Central

Similar vigils, which are being organised by a Facebook group, were being held in Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, Cardiff, Southampton and at the Cenotaph in central London.

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