British military missing $10bn of equipment

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Britain's military has lost track of £6.3 billion ($10.1 billion, seven billion euros) of equipment, lawmakers said Tuesday as they urged the Ministry of Defence to get a grip on stock control.

The unaccounted-for assets, including £184 million-worth of radios, were revealed as the MoD grapples with an eight percent cut to its £37 billion budget, part of government-wide cuts to reduce Britain's record deficit.

The Commons Defence Committee -- a scrutiny panel of lawmakers from parliament's lower House of Commons -- examines the MoD's expenditure, administration and policy.

In a new report, the lawmakers said they were "dismayed" that the National Audit Office had qualified the MoD's accounts for the fourth consecutive year.

"It is alarming that the department should be unaware of the location, usability or indeed the continued existence of assets to a total value of £6.3 billion," the committee said.

"We recommend that the department take whatever measures are necessary to expedite the process of ensuring that it knows how much stock it has, where it is and in what condition."

This is expected to take two to four years.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "As I have repeatedly said, the MoD has not managed its resources well for many years.

"We inherited a multi-billion pound deficit in defence from the previous government that was characterised by waste and inefficiency.

"While there are specific difficulties in managing assets in war zones across the globe, we must have better systems in place to accurately track what resources are held and where."

He said reforms announced last week should improve financial responsibility.

Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition is trying to make government-wide savings, and claimed it was left a 38-billion-pound "black hole" of unfunded defence spending commitments when it took office last May.

As part of the eight-percent cuts, the Royal Navy's flagship HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier has been scrapped along with Britain's fleet of Harrier jets.

© 2011 AFP

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