Armed Forces Personnel

Part of Defence – in the House of Commons at on 25 March 2024.

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Photo of James Heappey James Heappey Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

The right hon. Lady is conflating two separate issues. The former Secretary of State for Defence and I, and everybody else who has served on the Government Front Bench since we have returned to the prospect of state-on-state war, have referred to a hollowing out of the force. That is a consequence of decisions made not just by this Government, but by Governments since the fall of the Berlin wall, because the force that we maintained for the cold war and all its enablement was not necessary when we were fighting counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is what is meant by hollowing out. The sooner the right hon. Lady starts to deal with that issue, rather than conflating it with others to make political points, the sooner she will start to contribute to an important debate.

As far as recruitment goes, record interest has been shown in joining our nation’s armed forces, and there is no hiding from the fact that we need to rapidly accelerate the time between expressing an interest and being in training.