Taking a leaf out of Patricia "best year ever" Hewitt's book, Defence Minister Derek Twigg has responded to a critical Public Accounts Committee report on recruitment and retention in the Armed Forces by claiming that:
"Recent independently verified manning statistics show that recruitment into the Armed Forces remains strong against a buoyant economy, particularly for the Army Infantry. The latest Army figures show a 12 per cent increase in Army recruits since last year. The National Audit Office report last year highlighted that the Armed Forces have recruited 98% of their target since 2000. It is not the case that there are increasing shortages of personnel. In 1997 there was a 4.2% shortage compared with today's figure of 3%. It is also inaccurate to say that more people are leaving and that we are experiencing a "peak" in outflow. The number of people leaving has remained broadly stable and compares favourably with the retention rates in the public and private sector."
That's alright then. So long as we're hitting the recruiting targets, there must be no problem (obviously, the Government couldn't possibly have set too low a target relative to current commitments). Don't know what these soldiers and sailors are whingeing about. Overstretch must just be in their imagination.