Wounded UK soldiers face sack in speeded-up cuts: report
Britain is considering letting go 16,500 soldiers by 2015 -- more than double the number originally proposed -- with wounded soldiers among them, the Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.
The newspaper quoted a leaked internal memo which says 2,500 wounded soldiers, including 350 who have lost limbs, will not be spared in the ongoing defence cuts.
The classified document, sent to commanders in Afghanistan, states that wounded soldiers who have been "temporarily downgraded will not be exempt" and could be dismissed in the next round of job cuts early next year.
In the past month, six British soldiers have undergone double amputations as a result of injuries caused by the roadside bombs used by the Taliban which have accounted for many of the 385 British deaths in Afghanistan since 2001.
An officer serving with a unit in which a soldier suffered a triple amputation this month told the Telegraph the memo had badly damaged morale.
"We now know that not only will we be left with a life-changing injury serving our country over here but we will more than likely be kicked out of the Army," he said.
Jim Murphy, defence spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, warned that an accelerated redundancy programme could have "dangerous" consequences and that axeing injured troops would be "the cruelest cut of all".
He said it was particularly unfortunate that the memo had emerged on the weekend of commemorations for Armistice Day, the end of World War I.
"They are very worrying revelations," he told BBC radio. "If it is confirmed that some of those who have had very severe injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq are to be sacked it would be the cruelest cut of all."
Severely wounded soldiers could be given desk jobs, Murphy added.
Following a defence review last year by the Conservative-led coalition government, the Ministry of Defence said it would reduce the number of personnel from the army, navy and air force by 17,000 over four years.
At that point, 7,000 army jobs were earmarked to be cut. An initial 920 soldiers were cut in September.
On Saturday, the ministry insisted no decision had yet been made on the final number of army redundancies.
The head of Army planning, Brigadier Richard Nugee, said there had been no change in the way injured soldiers will be treated.
"There is absolutely no plan to change our treatment of service personnel who are wounded injured or sick.
"We have been clear throughout the redundancy and have made clear in the House of Commons that 'every case of wounded, injured or sick will be assessed individually."
© 2011 AFP