On the 71st anniversary of D-Day, news of note for Defence is focused on the military spending debate ahead of the G7 summit in Germany, the wait of some veterans for their Legion D’Honneur medal, and the continuing inquest into the death of three Reservists in the Brecon Beacons.
The Daily Telegraph reports that President Obama is expected to pressure David Cameron to commit to 2% defence spending at the G7 summit in Germany. The piece references David Cameron’s anti-corruption call, and suggests that UK aid delivered to nations with questionable financial practice may have helped those countries keep their defence spending at 2%.
The paper’s leader article reflects recent reporting since the announcement of £500 million in-year savings, arguing that the UK should continue to play a part on the world stage and should fund that, as was indicated at the NATO Summit in September.
An MOD Spokesperson said:
You would expect MOD to play a part in the Government’s ongoing commitment to reduce the deficit.
As part of the Chancellor’s announcement, we have agreed to make a further £500M of savings and adjustments in this financial year. This amounts to 1.5% of the overall defence budget.
This agreement will not impact on the baseline defence budget, manpower numbers or current operations. TheUK will continue to spend 2% GDP on defence in this financial year.
D-Day/Legion D’Honneur delays
On the 71st anniversary of the D-Day landings, the Daily Telegraph reports that many D-Day veterans are dying as they wait for the Legion D’Honneur medal from France. The article suggests that administrative delays involve the MOD, which provides initial administrative support before the French authorities process the medal applications.
We are doing our very best to process the applications as quickly as possible and we prioritise recipients aged 90 and over.
An MOD spokesperson said:
France is offering the Legion d’Honneur to all British veterans involved in the liberation of France in the Second World War and the MOD is assisting in the early process of administering applications, which are then passed to the French Embassy in London. We have received and processed over three thousand Legion D'Honneur medal applications and any further applications will be processed as soon as possible.
The Daily Mail reports that Army recruiters tried to access highly sensitive personal details of school pupils to help ‘target’ its messaging about military careers. The report claims MOD officials wanted access to children’s information – including financial, geographical and education performance data – but was blocked by the Department for Education.
We can be very clear that this is not the case. The Army does not recruit in schools but provides career advice and curriculum support. As part of the Army in Education programme, the Army only deploys staff at schools and colleges at the request of the educational establishment in question, and only engages with students in Academic Year 9 and above
An MOD Spokesperson said:
We can confirm that a request was made in error to the Department for Education for access to elements of the national pupil database by an individual who worked outside the Army’s recruitment branch. This is not in line with Army policy and the request was not pursued.
The Army does not target individual pupils for recruitment purposes. The Army only visit schools and colleges at the request of the educational establishment in question and provides general career advice and curriculum support to schools.
Various outlets report from the inquest into the deaths of three Reservists who died during a selection exercise in the Brecon Beacons in 2013. Coverage focuses on a medic who oversaw the march and comments that he was ‘not told to read’ MOD guidance on heat exhaustion. The inquest continues.
An Army spokesperson said:
Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family and friends of Cpl Dunsby, LCpl Roberts and Tpr Maher and at this difficult time. We were immensely saddened by their deaths whilst participating in a training exercise.
The Ministry of Defence is co-operating fully with the Coroner; all questions about the conduct of the inquest should be directed to the Coroner.