The Ministry of Defence has spent £2.3 billion on consultants since Labour came to power, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.
While British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq remain short of helicopters, weapons and other vital equipment, the MoD’s spending on management consultants and external advisers has rocketed since 1997: £2.3 billion could pay for an aircraft carrier, 51 Apache helicopters or annual salaries for 17,000 generals.
Britain’s Armed Forces are in danger of being reduced to a “gendarmerie” incapable of defending the country’s interests, the former head of the Royal Navy warned.
Admiral Sir Alan West, who retired as First Sea Lord earlier this year, accused the Ministry of Defence of acting like “these tinpot countries” which failed to invest in major military equipment programmes.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he warned that the reshaping of the Armed Forces to wage anti-terror operations in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan could be jeopardising Britain’s long term security.
“That way is a recipe for disaster for a defence force that has to do all the things that Britain may have to do in the next 50 years,” he said.
In ten years time, he said, the country could find itself confronted by a threat “far more dangerous than terrorism in central Asia”.
“All we could be left with are an Armed Forces that are effectively a gendarmerie. And I suppose we would retire to our island and hope no one gets to us,” he said.
General Sir Mike Jackson, the former head of the Army, has criticised the way in which the Ministry of Defence (MoD) runs the armed forces.
Speaking at the annual Dimbleby Lecture, he said soldiers’ wages were “hardly impressive” and “some accommodation” was “frankly shaming”.