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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 November 2007, 14:19 GMT
Army head concerned over morale
General Sir Richard Dannatt
Gen Dannatt said the military covenant was "out of kilter"
The head of the British Army has expressed concern about poor morale among troops.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt also raised the issue of the strain placed on resources by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

According to an internal report obtained by the Sunday Telegraph, Sir Richard said troops felt "devalued, angry and suffering from Iraq fatigue".

The Ministry of Defence said he was referring to individuals who were not necessarily widely representative.

A spokesman said: "The feedback given by lower ranks in the army helps the chief of the general staff to stay firmly in touch with life across the army and this helps to guide in him his discussions with the chain of command and in his decision making process."

'Care package'

The report catalogues disquiet on a wide range of issues facing soldiers, including poor housing when they are in the UK.

Gen Dannatt also said the military covenant - the guarantee of a duty of care between the government and the armed forces - is "clearly out of kilter".

He added: "We must strive to give individuals and units ample recuperation time between operations, but I do not underestimate how difficult this will be to achieve whilst under-manned and with less robust establishments than I would like."

We strive constantly to ensure that the armed forces have the best possible package of care
Des Browne,
Defence Secretary

Gen Dannatt issued a further statement on Saturday in which he said: "The military covenant is not broken, but more needs to be done.

"In response to our concerns we have had some welcome news this year on medical treatment, equipment, pay and improvements in accommodation."

In a separate Sunday Telegraph article, Defence Secretary Des Browne said concerns the covenant "is in any way broken are wrong".

He said the government was now "asking a lot" of the services and their families and Iraq and Afghanistan were placing "huge demands" on personnel.

He added: "That does not mean that we, the government, cannot do better.

"But the truth is that we strive constantly to ensure that the armed forces have the best possible package of care."

Liberal Democrat defence spokesman Nick Harvey said: "These powerful views from our troops confirm what many alarmed commentators have said for several years.

"The fact that General Dannatt, as head of the Army, is prepared to present them in this way, and add some telling remarks of his own, shows just how bad things have become."

In September, Gen Dannatt said he was becoming increasingly concerned about "the growing gulf between the Army and the nation".

He said soldiers were sometimes greeted with indifference on returning from service and contrasted the attitude in Britain with support for soldiers among people in the United States.



SEE ALSO
Browne denies 'failing' UK troops
19 Aug 07 |  UK Politics
Ministers 'failing UK soldiers'
15 Aug 07 |  UK Politics

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