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Gen. Richard Dannatt Photo: Reuters
Gen. Richard Dannatt Photo: Reuters

Report: Head of British army says troops overstretched

Gen. Richard Dannatt says commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have left British army with no reserves; ‘we now have almost no capacity to react to the unexpected,’ he says

News Agencies
Published: 07.21.07, 10:06 / Israel News

One of Britain's top military commanders said commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the British army with no reserves, a newspaper reported.


Saturday's editions of The Daily Telegraph, available late Friday, said a confidential memo written by army chief Gen. Richard Dannatt warned of a shortage of troops.


In a note to fellow defense leaders, he said that only around 500 troops were available to deal with, for example, a domestic terrorist attack or a deployment overseas at short notice.


"Our reserves to meet the unexpected (as well as for current operations) are now almost nonexistent," said the memo, which was posted on the Telegraph's Web site. "We now have almost no capacity to react to the unexpected."


Dannatt, who became chief of the British army last year, said it was "critical" staffing levels were addressed.


"I judge the situation remains manageable, but I am concerned about the longer term implications of the impact of this level of operations

on our people, equipment, and future operational capacity," the memo read.


The Ministry of Defense said in a statement in response to the Telegraph's report that "the situation in respect of current operations remains manageable. We have already stated publicly that if the current tempo of operations continues at this pace, we will have to revisit our planning assumptions."


Britain currently has around 6,000 troops in Afghanistan, and will raise that to 7,700 by the end of the year. There are 5,500 troops in Iraq, and the defense ministry said Thursday it would be reducing that by 500. Troop commitments in Northern Ireland and Bosnia are also coming to an end, the ministry said.


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