Army chief warns of damage done to morale by spending cutbacks

British soldiers' morale is being damaged by spending cuts which could undermine the operation in Afghanistan in the long term, the head of the Army said in a leaked memo.

Chief of the General Staff General Sir David Richards said spending cuts were having a "cumulative and corrosive" effect on military personnel and their families.

In the memo, which reported on an internal poll of 5,000 soldiers and their families in Britain, Germany and Cyprus, he said tightening purse strings could damage the Army's ability to keep and recruit soldiers.

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Their experience when they came back to the UK between tours was "deteriorating", he said, leaving troops and their loved ones feeling undervalued. Sir David wrote: "My greatest concern... is the deteriorating experience of soldiers and their families... between tours which the team reports is disaffecting attitudes, damaging morale and risks undermining our ability to sustain the campaign."

He went on: "We need our soldiers to be ready, mentally and physically, to endure repeated tours in Afghanistan, in a harsh environment, with the real prospect of significant casualties each time.

"To maintain the necessary moral and cohesion, they must see tangible signs between tours that they and their families are valued."

Sir David said that said that spending cuts could have a damaging effect in the longer term.

Rising costs have led to the Ministry of Defence making cuts in office staff as well as areas which are deemed lower-priority for military personnel such as refurbishing their accommodation.