Page last updated at 00:34 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 01:34 UK

Reaction to defence aide resignation

A ministerial aide to Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth has resigned, criticising the government's strategy over Afghanistan and calling for an exit strategy for the UK troops there.

Here is some reaction to the resignation of Eric Joyce, himself a former soldier:


"Eric Joyce is, of course, entitled to his opinion and while we thank him for his service as a junior parliamentary aide, it is vital that we have a leadership team that is fully committed to our mission in Afghanistan.

Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth
The defence secretary said he did not recognise Mr Joyce's view

"The picture he paints is not one that I nor many people within the MoD recognise, whether military or civilian.

"Everyone in Defence, and the wider government, is fully committed to ensuring that our forces succeed in the operations on which they are engaged in Afghanistan, and that they have the necessary equipment and support to do the job.

"Our mission in Afghanistan is vital to our national security. We will not walk away from that responsibility."


In a letter to Eric Joyce:

"Bob Ainsworth has already replied to you emphasising the importance of the effort in Afghanistan to defeating terrorism, and of supporting, at all times, our Armed Forces.

"I am determined that nothing will distract my government from this most vital of tasks."


"Some of what Eric Joyce says will resonate very widely and I completely agree that there is growing anger that some of the European countries in Nato are not pulling their weight in Afghanistan.

"But I think what's significant about his resignation is that he's one of the few Labour MPs to have served in the military, he's been at the right hand of the defence secretary - and I think that what he is representing tonight is a reservoir of discontent on the Labour benches and a feeling that Gordon Brown has never really had much feel for defence issues or the military, and that from the military right down the Parliamentary Labour Party, there is a great deal of unhappiness."


"Eric Joyce confirms what I have been saying for a long time, our approach in Afghanistan is over-ambitious and under-resourced.

"We cannot continue to put British servicemen and servicewomen in harm's way in pursuit of a strategy which is increasingly unrealistic while failing to give our troops the pay, the equipment and the support they urgently need."


"I just saw his letter for the first time this evening and I do not really recognise the picture that he paints in that and it seems rather confused.

"I have no doubt whatsoever just seeing the things that go across my desk, that there is a very clear terror threat that emanates particularly from the FATA [(Federally Administered Tribal Areas] and across the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan."


"I'm a bit surprised to find myself in agreement with Eric because I wouldn't normally necessarily agree with him on all of these matters, but on this one I think he's absolutely right.

"I think there's a growing concern both here and in the United States about why we're still in Afghanistan - this of course predates Iraq - and about the changing objectives.

It's never quite clear what we hope to achieve there so I think he's with, you know, the swing in opinion on this."

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