Select Committee on Defence First Special Report

Desert Boots and Clothing

The issue of the availability of desert clothing and boots during Operation TELIC has been both a confusing and worrying story. MOD should clarify its position on the circumstances in which desert clothing and boots are to be used and ensure that all service personnel understand the position. MOD clearly underestimated the impact on morale of failing to provide service personnel with the clothing and boots which they required and expected. We find it unacceptable that some two weeks after the start of the combat phase 60 per cent of the additional clothing requirement that had been ordered was not available in theatre. We understand that MOD has now increased its stockholding of desert and tropical clothing and boots up to a total of 32,000 sets. We expect MOD to keep the level of stockholding under review. (Paragraph 257)."

112. Sufficient stocks of desert clothing and desert boots were ordered to meet the stated operational requirements. However, the Department acknowledges that some personnel experienced shortages. In light of operations in Iraq, the policy has been reviewed and stockholdings have been increased to cater for 32,000 personnel.

113. The MOD is confident that arrangements for ensuring personnel and units understand when Desert Clothing and Boots are to be used are sufficiently robust.


Body armour is another example of where MOD's in-theatre distribution and tracking led to shortages in critical equipment. MOD should identify and implement solutions to address these shortcomings and ensure that service personnel receive the equipment they are entitled to. (Paragraph 262).

114. Measures have been introduced in the STP/EP 04 programme to provide incremental improvements to logistic tracking and visibility. In the short term, efforts have focused upon enhancements to the Consignment Visibility system and retention of the Total Asset Visibility system procured as a UOR measure for Operation TELIC. Funding has also been agreed for the equipment programme to develop Management of the Joint Deployed Inventory (MJDI) and a logistic element on the new joint operational computer system (JC2SS). MJDI will provide the joint stores accounting and management capability in a deployed Theatre.

115. The Department has been frank and open about the difficulties encountered in tracking equipment in theatre. Improvements to this capability are being actively pursued.

We will be interested to see the results of the audit of previously issued body armour components and the action that MOD plans to take in response to the findings. (Paragraph 264).

116. The results of the Enhanced Combat Body Armour (ECBA) audit are detailed in the attached tables, which also include issues data for Combat Body Armour (CBA) Covers (these do not have the pockets for the ECBA plates). The audit has shown that current stockholdings of ECBA components account for 66% of the total number procured since 1992. The remainder (some 38,000 plates, 29,000 fillers and 79,000 `temperate/desert covers) have been consumed over this period of as a result of wear and tear, and operational loss. As can be seen from the data, ECBA is issued as individual components and stocks are held throughout the supply chain at central, single Service and in-theatre storage facilities.

117. When the audit was carried out there were sufficient plates in stock to equip some 48,000 personnel (based on two plates per set of ECBA). The overall number of ECBA/CBA component issues since 1992 (691,458) is broadly consistent with the initial estimate of 700,000 provided in February.

118. The figures for the number of issues include items that have been returned to stock and re-issued, possibly more than once, and therefore indicate the volume of activity rather than the number of items issued on a permanent basis.

119. The data for the audit was collected from a number of sources. Whilst we hold central records of the procurement, issue and central stockholding of ECBA/CBA, information was also collated from the Services, Northern Ireland and Op TELIC to develop a more comprehensive picture of global holdings. Some of this data will have been collected against differing baselines and data on stockholdings can only therefore provide a snapshot in time.

120. Taking into account the lessons learned from operations in Iraq, we are currently in the process of developing a policy for the future issue of ECBA, drawing on that which already exists for other items of personal protection such as the GS helmet and S10 respirator. The results of the ECBA audit will inform this process in terms of the requirement for the initial procurement of ECBA components to support it. Our aim is to have this policy approved by the summer.

Before any firm decision on whether enhanced body armour should become a personal issue item is made, the views of service personnel, as well as the logistic implications of a change in policy, must be considered. If the conclusion is that enhanced body armour is not required for all operations, efforts should nonetheless be made to ensure that where it is required it is issued to personnel before their deployment.

121. The Department is currently reviewing its policy on the issue of ECBA. All key stakeholders are being consulted in the exercise. A decision should be made by the summer.

SA80 A2

The modifications to the SA80 have provided UK service personnel with a more effective weapon system. MOD must ensure that users of the weapon are kept fully aware of the cleaning requirements for different environments and provide the necessary cleaning material. Concerns about the weapon's safety catch must be monitored and, where necessary, appropriate action taken. (Paragraph 267).

122. The Department notes the Committee's view of the importance of ensuring that the SA80A2 maintenance regime is promulgated. Reports from Operation TELIC are of almost universal praise for the performance of the SA80A2. The promulgation of the SA80 cleaning regime was reinforced in theatre by providing an additional double aide memoire (cleaning procedure and safety plunger maintenance). We have received no formal reports of stoppages during the operation.

123. The problem with the safety catch/plunger is infrequent, and is very quick to rectify. The problem does not result in catastrophic failure and its onset is gradual.

124. Nevertheless, a new safety plunger has been trialled in Iraq and has been approved following safety certification. 200,000 new safety catches have been ordered. Deliveries will begin in June 2004 and will be completed in March 2005. The intention is to fit the complete SA80A2 fleet with the new plunger.


Our examination suggests that there were problems with the supply of ammunition when the fighting echelon began operations. MOD accepts that in the very early stages there were some problems and not all service personnel had the right amount. We expect MOD to establish the scale of the problem, to investigate any specific cases identified, in particular the tragic incident involving the six Royal Military Policemen, and to implement the necessary action to avoid any re-occurrence in the future. (Paragraph 270).

125. The Department notes the Committee's concerns about the supply of ammunition at the start of operations. Over 23 million rounds of 5.56mm ball ammunition were delivered to Operation TELIC. This was well in excess of the projected requirement of all units deployed. Despite persistent rumours, no shortages of 5.56mm ammunition were reported to HQ 1(UK) Armoured Div by brigades either prior to or after crossing the Line of Departure. While at times during the advance into Iraq the logistic supply chain was stretched temporarily, the Department has been unable to verify allegations that individual units were left with insufficient ammunition.

126. It is not possible to determine whether some of the rumours relate to troops in rear areas, who may not have been allocated ammunition by their commanders. Notwithstanding this, we have no record of commanders mentioning ammunition shortages in their post-operation reports.

127. There has been speculation about the level of ammunition available to the 6 Royal Military Policemen who died in Al-Majar Al-Kabir on 24 June 2003. In order to establish the facts surrounding this issue, a Board of Inquiry (BOI) convened on 15 March 2004, which is examining the circumstances leading up to the point at which the six soldiers moved into the police station. The BOI will examine weapon and ammunition scalings, and we are confident that this, together with the Service Police investigation, will provide a much clearer understanding of events.


"We understand that MOD is currently reviewing the scales of issue of night vision equipment. We consider that the ability to operate confidently and effectively at night greatly enhances force protection and capability. We look to MOD to examine the case for providing night vision capability to all service personnel who are required to operate at night. (Paragraph 272)."

128. The Department has a number of programmes that are designed to improve our forces' night vision capability. The Head Mounted Night Visions System programme provides individual night vision equipment for infantry units as well as the RAF Regiment and 3 Commando Brigade. The procurement of this system was accelerated through UOR action and has proved to be particularly effective on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Light Weight Thermal Imaging programme provides a thermal imaging capability at platoon level in infantry units as well as the RAF Regiment and 3 Commando Brigade. We also plan to procure a Surveillance System and Range Finder that will provide an integrated TI and laser range finder which will equip fire controllers within the combat and combat support arms of the Army as well as the RAF Regiment and 3 Commando Brigade. These three programmes, in combination, will provide a significant enhancement to the ability of our forces to operate at night.


We find it alarming that MOD had to 'move Combopens around in theatre' to fulfil the requirement. (Paragraph 274).

129. Redistribution of 'Combopens' around theatre to ensure that the individuals requiring such personal protection received it was a sensible response to the protection needs of UK forces.

Given the potential threat posed by Iraqi armed forces, sufficient chemical warfare detection and protection were particularly important for this operation. However, there were serious shortcomings in the supply and distribution system and the required levels of detection and protection were not always available to everyone. Indeed, while MOD ideally would have liked each serviceman and woman to have had four suits available, only one suit per person was available which MOD judged to be sufficient for this operation. Furthermore it is essential that personnel have confidence in the effectiveness of the equipment with which they are provided. It was fortuitous that service personnel did not suffer as a consequence, but had the Iraqis used chemical weapons systematically, as employed in the Iran-Iraq war, the operational consequences would have been severe. The lack of armoured vehicle filters seems to us to be a matter of the utmost seriousness. The lessons identified need to be implemented as a matter of urgency to ensure that servicemen and women serving on operations have complete and justified confidence that chemical warfare attacks will be detected in time, that their individual protection equipment will save their lives and that operational success will not be imperilled. This is particularly important given that UK service personnel are more likely to be operating in such environments in the future. (Paragraph 281).

130. The NAO report on Operation TELIC states: "Although overall protection against chemical agents was good there were shortfalls". This is the position that the Department has set out consistently since the operation began. There were sufficient stocks on the shelf for all personnel who deployed into theatre, including contractors and embedded journalists. Notwithstanding this, owing to a mismatch between the sizes of the suits and individuals, a small number of troops crossed the Line of Departure with only one properly fitting suit. In particular there was a shortage of large suits which primarily affected the Irish Guards. This was caused by a combination of out-of-date sizing information and a lack of historical data. We have developed procedures with PJHQ to ensure units do not take in excess of their requirement in the future, and are increasing the on-the-shelf size range.

131. Commanders assessed that the risk posed to the Force by these shortages was low. The effect on morale was judged to be more serious than the practical impact.

132. For NBC filter on armoured vehicles, as with other threats, we had to judge the balance of risk between waiting for all equipment to arrive and be available and delaying the start of combat operations. Although a limited number of NBC vehicle filters for some types of vehicle had arrived in 1 (UK) Division before hostilities began, these had to compete with other priorities such as in-theatre integration of forces and receiving and integrating the final two armoured Battlegroups into the Division.

133. Not all armoured vehicles have NBC filters fitted. For example older designs such as most of the FV430 series and some of Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) variants do not. Our principal fighting vehicles, such as Challenger 2, Warrior and AS90 do. Sufficient NBC filters were dispatched to Iraq, most in time for operations, but problems with asset tracking in theatre meant that these were unable to be located until after hostilities had ceased.

134. However, troops are trained to operate armoured vehicles wearing their personal NBC equipment, irrespective of whether the vehicle has collective NBC protection.


Given how critical logistics are to operations, we expect MOD to implement the lessons identified in its reports on Operation TELIC, and also those lessons identified by the National Audit Office. We intend to closely monitor the progress of MOD's end-to-end review. (Paragraph 283).

135. There is a clear process for capturing Lessons Identified from Operations and exercises led by the Defence Operational Capability audit team. National Audit Office (NAO) and other reports will also be collated to ensure a comprehensive compendium of lessons' material for consideration in our forward plans. One of the End-to-End Review's recommendations reinforced CDL's appointment as end-to-end (E2E) Logistic Process Owner for the Department. In addition, the Defence Logistics Board has been established. The Board provides strategic direction to develop an operationally effective E2E support chain that delivers operational and logistic effect, aiming to give the end user full confidence. It provides clear guidance on immediate priorities, and offers direction to develop future logistic capabilities. The aim is to give primacy to operational effectiveness at all times, without sacrificing the overall need for efficiency.

We are in no doubt that one of the key lessons to emerge from Operation TELIC concerns operational logistic support and specifically, the requirement for a robust system to track equipment and stocks both into and within theatre—a requirement which was identified in the 1991 Gulf War. The lack of such a system on Operation TELIC resulted in numerous problems with the in-theatre distribution of critical items such as ammunition, body armour and NBC equipment. MOD has told us that having such a system is top of its logistics priorities and we understand that proposals will be submitted to Ministers in the spring. We urge Ministers to provide the necessary funding. However, we find it alarming that a full system is unlikely to be in place within the next five years. (Paragraph 291).

136. Both the NAO report and the Department's own reports on Operation TELIC recognise shortcomings in our ability to track equipment in theatre, and the issue of tracking has been examined. A package of improvements for logistics materiel management has been identified which includes tracking. This package would require funding and options will need to be considered as part of the Department's planning round against other priorities. If funded, the enhancements will provide a robust tracking capability.

Personnel Issues

Accommodation and Food

We are pleased to learn that the majority of Armed Forces personnel in Iraq are now in satisfactory air-conditioned accommodation. Such accommodation is vital in ensuring that Armed Forces personnel can perform their roles effectively when they are deployed to harsh environments. It should be a priority of any operation that appropriate accommodation is made available as quickly as possible. (Paragraph 296).

137. The importance of air conditioning in an exceptionally hot climate is fully appreciated and led to the current level of provisioning across Iraq. In general terms, whilst a comprehensive air conditioned environment might seem desirable, provisioning will always depend on the operational context and priorities. It is also important not to undermine the acclimatisation process, as our Service personnel must retain their ability to operate in harsh environments. The key priority is to provide air conditioned respites, which should be made available as early as possible after the deployment of initial forces. Thereafter, other areas for air conditioning (including some domestic accommodation, offices and communal areas) will follow on in due course.

During our visit to Iraq we were impressed with the quality of the food provided to our Armed Forces, particularly given the difficult conditions, such as the very high temperatures, in which catering personnel had to work. (Paragraph 299).

138. The production of high quality food is a team effort involving not only the DLO and the World Wide Food contractor '3663' but also the unit chefs who consistently produce a high standard in the most difficult of conditions.


We regret the decision to withdraw the free postal service in February 2004. (Paragraph 300).

139. The decision to withdraw the free postal packet scheme became effective on 8 April 2004, but affects neither the free delivery of aerogramme letters nor of electronic letters.

140. The free postal packet scheme allowed friends and relatives of named Service personnel to send a packet[1] weighing less than 2kg in weight to the Iraq theatre of operations free of charge. A number of factors influenced the introduction of the temporary scheme:

  • During the First Gulf War the British public demonstrated their support for Service personnel by donating gifts of toiletries, books and small consumables. The scale of the support overwhelmed both the British Forces Post Office and the logistic supply chain. Many boxes were eventually buried by the side of the road and a large number were diverted to stations within the United Kingdom. It was identified that the absence of a specific addressee was a contributory factor in this.
  • When the scheme was introduced on 17 April 2003 Service personnel, fighting in particularly austere conditions, did not have access to the welfare facilities and consumables that are now available and the desire of the British public to demonstrate support for Service personnel in Iraq was at its highest[2].

141. Initially, the Royal Mail Group paid for the cost of transport between the point of posting and delivery to the British Forces Post Office. The subsidy ceased in July 2003. Following careful consideration, including consultation with the chain of command, the scheme was discontinued in April, coinciding with the roulement of 20 Armd Bde and 1 Mech Bde.

142. The free postal packet service was a measure unique to Iraq; no other overseas or UK based operation receives a similar concession. Given that the provision of goods and services in Iraq has reached the expected standard, and is similar to those found on other operations, it would be wholly divisive to continue to offer the service only to those in Iraq especially as the welfare facilities available in theatre have been described as 'the envy of US forces'. Those items that the scheme most commonly catered for are now commonly available in theatre and the complete welfare package includes:

  • Free aerogramme letters and e-letters ('blueys' and 'e-blueys').
  • A free 20 minute phone call to anywhere in the world once a week (this can be supplemented by the purchase of additional phone cards).
  • Free Internet access.
  • Packets up to 2kg in weight may be sent at a reduced cost equivalent to the UK Inland First Class Postage Rate[3].
  • A generous allocation of TVs and radios to watch/listen to multi-channel British Forces Broadcasting Services TV /radio along with Videos, DVDs and computer games.
  • Free books/newspapers and magazines.
  • Free board games.
  • Access to the Expeditionary Forces Institute that will deliver a service across the British area of responsibility.
  • Access to basic leisure facilities off duty (gymnasium/fitness equipment, coffee bars and 'Wetherspoon' style pubs).
  • Access to a Combined Services Entertainment show once during a 6-month tour.
  • A visit by a showbiz personality once during a 6-month tour.
  • Two weeks Rest and Recuperation during a 6-month tour with an additional four weeks leave at the end of a six-month tour.
  • Extra allowances for deployment away from the home base.
  • Issue of additional travel warrants to spouses to enable them to visit family members.
  • Allocation of £1 per week for every person deployed on operations to Units to enable welfare facilities (such as Internet cafes) to be established for partners and families to use at the home base.

143. All of this comes at a cost to the taxpayer and schemes such as free postal packets must be seen in the context of the complete package now available to Service personnel. When the scheme finishes between £1.5m - £2m will have been spent providing free postal packets. Should the scheme continue, it would be invidious not to extend it to all operational personnel (and the Iraq theatre of operations represents a third of those currently deployed on operations). Under these circumstances we could not guarantee postal delivery on RAF flights to the theatre in question and would have to resort to civil charter with increased costs. Dependant on the numbers involved in operations and the availability of RAF transport this could cost between £3m -£9m pa. In order to fund this, savings would have to be made in other, more essential, elements of the Operational Welfare Package, which would be highly undesirable.

The Operational Welfare Package (OWP) in place for Operation TELIC worked well and was well received. However, we are concerned that early entry forces saw little benefit from the package. MOD acknowledges that this is an area where improvements are needed. We expect MOD to implement such improvements as quickly as possible. (Paragraph 302).

144. The second edition of the Operational Welfare Support Policies' Compendium, dated 19 March 2004, includes a requirement for an OWP for early entry forces and PJHQ will be responsible for delivering this. Concurrently, PJHQ produced a Concept of Operations brief for early entry welfare communications. Moreover, a trial was conducted in Norway in March 2004 with the supporting contractor and elements of 3 Cdo Bde provided with a satellite phone linked laptop e-mail messaging service. Following this trial, 40 ruggedised laptops have been acquired to meet the requirement of one of the assigned Spearhead Battalion Groups. Final validation work will be undertaken in late April/May 2004 by forces deployed in Afghanistan. Together with an operational reserve of Iridium satellite phones a solution to the requirement for both voice and basic e-mail welfare communications has now been identified and, subject to validation activity, this combination will be an invaluable welfare enhancement. Work on the provision of the leisure/relaxation element of the OWP for early entry forces is also in train.

We are pleased to learn that the needs of families are being addressed and that there is now a families element to the operational welfare package. (Paragraph 305).

145. The Operational Welfare Package is based on a Review of Operational Welfare which reported in late 1999. The subsequent publicly-funded policy was issued in the summer 2002 and most recently reviewed and updated in March 2004. The policy is clear in its four key component requirements and deliverables which are: Communications; Leisure/relaxation; Physiological and Families. Of these, the communications package (20 mins telephone call-time per week per person; Internet access, personal e-mail; a postal service by letter, free aerogrammes (blueys) and e-blueys (further enhanced in 2003 by the forces post card)) is designed to link those deployed with home and is identified as key in maintaining and improving the morale of our Service personnel and their operational effectiveness. Further links with families are supported by:

  • Concessionary postal rates;
  • Concessionary travel for families;
  • The operational welfare leaflet (to ensure Service personnel and their families are fully briefed on the OWP and allowances that they will be eligible for once deployed);
  • The introduction in April 2003 of the Family Package.

146. The Family Package assists Home Units in providing welfare support to families of Service Personnel deployed on operations. It is applicable to a Home/Parent Unit with at least five personnel deployed on operations, exercises or deployments (for which the OWP has been authorised) and consists of £1 per week for each deployed Service person who is in receipt of OWP. The command will judge the best use of the monies to support activities that enhance communication or relieve hardship that have been generated by the deployment. Expenditure must be within the spirit of this enhancement and be consistent with current guidance on financial propriety and regularity. Examples of acceptable expenditure are:

  • Provision of communications equipment (Internet facilities and telephone lines) for Help Information Volunteer Exchanges (HIVE) and Community Centres.
  • Meeting the cost of extended Community/Welfare communications (Internet line usage to deployed operation area).
  • Assistance towards the costs of producing and posting welfare information (leaflets, flyers and updates).
  • Extension of Help Information and Volunteer Exchange (HIVE) opening hours.
  • Occasional provision of transport for attendance at briefings/meetings.
  • Meeting costs of occasional children's activities (e.g. provision of a crèche during family briefings/meetings).
  • Provision of non-alcoholic refreshments at unit-organised briefings/meetings related to the operation.

MOD is currently considering further ways of providing improved information to families. Given how important this is to families, MOD should implement the improvements identified as quickly as possible. (Paragraph 306).

147. The MOD notes and supports the recommendation and recognises the importance of communications between families, those deployed on operations and the Services. The Operational Welfare Package has gone a long way to address communications and continues to improve its delivery. The provision of funds via the OWP family package has enabled flyers, newsletters and briefings (amongst other events) to be delivered at unit level. Other non-operational welfare initiatives such as the continuing development of Services' websites are actively being pursued and put in place. Further, wider, work is also in hand on this issue.

The families of reservists have not, in the past, received the same level of support as the families of regular service personnel. We recommend that MOD takes action to address this imbalance. This is particularly important given the increased contribution which reservists are now making and are expected to make to future operations. (Paragraph 309).

148. A Families Welfare Support Enhancement was introduced on 1 April 2003. This amounts to £1/week/deployed reservist. In the event of a service related death, payments equivalent to attributable benefits will be payable to unmarried partners (where there is a substantial relationship) of reserve personnel. Moreover, the single Services have taken the following action:

  • The RN are currently considering the introduction of mobilised Welfare Officers to assist with looking after the families of mobilised reservists.
  • HQ LAND has instructed TA units that they may mobilise a TA Unit Welfare Officer. Evidence shows that the Welfare Officer is used to keep in touch with families, visit families and assisting the PSAOs in dealing with any queries from families. A course is run at Bristol University for the Welfare Officers.
  • The RAF sends an Information pack to families of reservists prior to their return. The RAFCom Internet website provides a wide range of information for families. Nominated points of contact (RAuxAF have stay behind cells who acted as poc for families. Ex Reg Reserve have a nominated poc from affiliated unit who will be in touch with families) have also been introduced. Finally, regular briefings are given to families.

MOD needs to ensure that service personnel have access to the required level of life and accident insurance while on operations. (Paragraph 310).

149. After the events of 9/11 insurers reviewed their exposure to risk in the light of global terrorism, WMD proliferation and operational tempo. Accordingly, much of the limited capital has migrated to civilian risks and Life Insurance capacity for our Armed Forces reduced, since Service risks are deemed 'unquantifiable'.

150. Several major providers (e.g. the PAX (personal accident) scheme with some 62,000 members) have introduced exclusions for nuclear risks, biological and chemical weapons or 'dirty' bombs; others have withdrawn schemes. These exclusions affect death benefits under accident policies.

151. During Operation TELIC some Service personnel—especially reservists—faced exclusions for some of the specific war risks they faced and some failed to secure appropriate cover before deploying.

152. MOD provides a comprehensive compensation package through the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) and the War Pensions Scheme. Even the refocused AFPS arrangements—which will not be widely applicable for many years—may not always match desired levels of financial security, particularly for junior people with large responsibilities.

153. People requiring enhanced benefit levels were previously able to buy optional Life Insurance. Although Life Insurance schemes are now available to Service personnel, comprehensive cover is not universal—particularly for the large accumulated numbers of Regulars and Reservists.

154. We recognise that gaps in commercial life insurance cover are an important area where action is needed, but a decision on whether a commitment to support a Group Life Insurance scheme for our Armed Forces would be justified has yet to be taken. However, options for an appropriate Departmental solution are currently under consideration.


We conclude that, overall, MOD's casualty reporting arrangements worked well during Operation TELIC. We emphasise the critical importance of ensuring that next of kin are informed of any casualty by the MOD and not the media. We welcome the improvements in the revised arrangements introduced, which now better reflect the needs of bereaved families. (Paragraph 316).

155. We welcome the comments of the HCDC and have nothing to add.

We welcome the fact that widows' benefits have been extended to unmarried partners of service personnel who die in conflict, and that bereaved families can now remain in their service accommodation until they are ready to leave. We look to MOD to implement any further improvements which are identified by the current tri-Service review of bereavement policy. (Paragraph 318).

156. The Department is conducting a 'Training-Needs-Analysis' of the training given to Service personnel nominated to assist bereaved families in the aftermath of a death in-Service. This will assess current provision, identify areas that could be improved upon and will enable us to promote 'best practice' across the Department. Furthermore, a Guide for Bereaved families is about to be published, which has been designed to assist widows and bereaved families and explain the welfare provision available from the Services. Drafts of this Guide were circulated to Service Widows Associations for comment and this initiative has been welcomed.


The high number of operations which UK service personnel have been involved in has had an adverse impact on their training. We expect MOD to ensure that service personnel returning from operations catch up with their training as soon as possible and that promotion opportunities are not adversely affected because of their operational deployment. But we recognise that, in the short term, the most important point is for service personnel to recuperate properly and that this includes the opportunity to take the leave to which they are entitled. However, the Government must recognise that the Armed Forces are simply not large enough to sustain the pattern of operational deployment since the Strategic Defence Review permanently without serious risk of damage to their widely admired professional standards. (Paragraph 320).

157. Assumptions about the concurrency of operations are based on historical analysis of the type, scale and endurance of recent deployments, together with a judgement about how this pattern might evolve in future. As a norm and without creating overstretch we should be able to mount an enduring medium scale peace support operation simultaneously with a small scale peace support operation and a one-off small scale intervention operation.

158. We may choose to do more than this, accepting that there will be an impact on training and individual or collective 'harmony' (single Service guidelines on the length and frequency of operational deployments):

  • We should be able to reconfigure our forces rapidly to carry out the enduring medium and small scale peace support operations simultaneously with a limited duration medium scale intervention operation.
  • Given time to prepare we should be able to reconfigure to conduct a large-scale operation while still conducting a small scale enduring operation and fulfilling standing commitments.

159. Operation TELIC preceded by Operation FRESCO placed unusually high demands on our Armed Forces.

160. We recognise that the high level of personnel committed to operations has made attendance on promotional courses difficult, but there is the capacity to cope with the 'peaks and troughs' of the educational demand of personnel deploying on, or recuperating from operations, therefore not disadvantaging officers and soldiers in terms of promotion opportunities.

161. The importance of individuals being able to take the leave to which they are entitled to should not be underestimated. This was problematic for Operation TELIC, as some units, especially those who had been committed to Operation FRESCO, were unable to take their Post Operational Tour Leave (POTL) and annual leave Entitlement. We recognise that it is imperative for our troops to recuperate and these situations have been closely monitored, exploiting every opportunity for individuals to take their leave entitlement.


We are pleased to hear that MOD has commissioned research into the physical and psychological health of personnel who deployed and that the initial research is being followed up in a major study to commence early this year. We look forward to seeing the outcome of this work and expect MOD to take appropriate action in response to its findings. (Paragraph 322).

162. The major study, based on an initial questionnaire which is being sent out to about 19,000 personnel, is underway. Results are expected by the end of 2004 and will be published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

163. Further stages of the research will depend on the results of the questionnaire, but might include clinical studies and a comparison of the findings with the results of the Exposures Study being undertaken by the Institute for Environment and Health. This study aims to collect and examine data and records from Operation TELIC, including operation logs, to identify possible exposures that may have adverse health effects.

164. In order to ensure the independence of the research, an oversight board, including scientists recommended by the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council and representatives from the Royal British Legion, has been set up. The Board overseas the research, and will also advise the MOD on any future research it thinks necessary.

We are pleased to learn that the take up and use of the new medical form appears to have been high and that, despite the increased administrative burden, it has proved popular with users. We note that MOD is reviewing the format in order to ensure even greater utility for future operations. (Paragraph 323).

165. We are pleased that the introduction of the new medical form has proved to be a success. Our review will make the form even more user-friendly for future operations

We welcome the measures relating to post traumatic stress disorder which MOD introduced for Operation TELIC. We look to MOD to monitor this aspect closely and also other illnesses experienced as a result of being deployed on Operation TELIC. We are disappointed by the delays to the publication of MOD's paper covering the health lessons from Operation GRANBY and the experience of Operation TELIC. Given the level of interest in these matters, we expect MOD to publish this paper as soon as possible. (Paragraph 327).

166. We are confident that the measures we are now putting in to place to create a managed health system, including the creation of Departments of Community Mental Health and the use of private providers for in-patient mental health care, will enhance our ability to monitor post-traumatic stress disorder and other illnesses experienced as a result of being deployed on Operation TELIC.

167. The paper on the health lessons identified since the 1991 Gulf Conflict was initially only intended to include lessons from Operation GRANBY; however it was decided to delay the publication of the paper so that it can take into account the experience of Operation TELIC. The paper will be published soon.

Costs and Recovery

Resource Accounting and Budgeting

Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) is a complex financial process and MOD needs to ensure that its staff are appropriately trained in its application. We remain concerned that the application of RAB may, perhaps through a misinterpretation of its aim, have led to stock holdings being reduced too far. We recommend that MOD undertakes a review which assesses whether RAB is leading to poor decision making, in particular in relation to stock level holdings. (Paragraph 333).

168. The Department constantly reviews its stock and Capital Spares holdings against assessments of future requirements to minimise unnecessary overheads. These are business based judgements and we do not believe that RAB has in itself had a significant impact on decisions about levels of stock holding.

169. Deciding on appropriate levels of stock holdings is a complex process which requires careful balancing of risks and costs. In particular, ensuring value for money within a finite resource budget requires us to balance the need to hold stocks in store against the practicality of obtaining stocks from industry, or elsewhere, within anticipated warning and preparation times. The MOD carries out regular detailed Logistic Sustainability and Deployability Audits to review, and where necessary update, its stockpile requirements and holdings. For key consumable stocks (such as Enhanced Combat Body Armour, clothing and operational ration packs) the logistic sustainability requirements have been updated, procurement authorised and the modest, non-cash holding costs funded.


It will be some time before the costs of the operation in 2003-04 are known—perhaps not until late summer 2004 when they are published in MOD's Annual Report and Accounts. MOD acknowledges that it has taken longer than expected to assess the costs of stock consumed and equipment lost or damaged during the conflict phase. We expect MOD to ensure this work is advanced as quickly as possible and for the outcome to be reported to Parliament as soon as it is completed. (Paragraph 339).

170. Work on finalising the costs of Operation TELIC in Financial Year 03/04 is being taken forward as quickly as possible with data being audited by the National Audit Office as part of their audit of the MOD's 2003/04 Accounts. Final figures will be included in the Department's Annual Report and Accounts to be published in September, in line with the accounts of other Government Departments.

We expect MOD to recover costs owed to them by other Coalition partners as soon as possible. (Paragraph 340).

171. Cost recovery arrangements are in place and working successfully for current multi-national operations in Iraq. Cost recovery for earlier phases of Operation TELIC is largely complete. Fuel supplied by the UK to US forces, and vice versa, is covered by a number of reciprocal Fuel Exchange Agreements which provide access to each other's fuel stocks. The various FEAs are periodically reconciled and, once all transactions have been agreed, any outstanding balances are cleared by either repayment in kind, or financial reimbursement.


We expect MOD to replace the equipment, and the stores and supplies, necessary to restore the operational capabilities consumed or lost during Operation TELIC as soon as possible, to ensure that Armed Forces personnel can undertake their roles effectively. (Paragraph 344).

172. The Department has now entered a period of recuperation, which is designed to restore required levels of operational capability as soon as practicable. This process includes, as one element of a number of strands of work, action to replace key equipment that has been destroyed and to replenish ammunition and other stores used during Operation TELIC. As the Department has indicated to the Committee in oral evidence, not all of the individual equipments lost during operations need to be replaced on a like for like basis to meet our recuperation plans. Nor is it sensible for all such replacement or stock replenishment to be taken forward at a uniform rate; rather the pace of recuperation in individual capability areas will reflect a range of factors including the relative contribution to overall levels of operational readiness and the speed with which new stock or equipment can be delivered.

1   In Royal Mail Group terminology a packet is 2kg or less, a parcel weighs more than 2kg. Back

2   After the introduction of the free service, volumes of mail despatched to theatre had to be limited to 20 tons per day, double the amount usually handled. By October 2003, 3 tons of mail was being dispatched to theatre of which 2 tons were packets; this figure remains constant. Back

3   A first class stamp will be required for cards; the cost will rise according to weight to a maximum of 2kg for which £6.89 will be charged. This was previously notified as £7.23. Back

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