Former Army Major and Labour MP, Dan Jarvis, has today spoken out against proposals to extend soldiers tours in Afghanistan from six to twelve months.
Jarvis who served in Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and multiple tours of Afghanistan, explained, “anyone who has served on the frontline in Afghanistan knows that after six months you are mentally and physically exhausted. It is neither reasonable nor sustainable to expect our troops to continue engaging in combat operations beyond the six month point.
I understand these proposals are currently just being floated around as an idea, and in fact, I can see the merit in extending the tours of those military personnel who are working closely with Afghan partners or who are based in the military headquarters. What I would not accept, however, are frontline soldiers being asked to stay beyond the six month mark.
I believe the Defence Secretary is only interested in saving money; reducing the turn over of troops in theatre is about saving money; it is not in the interest of our Armed Forces and it is not about ensuring our military are capable of delivering the kind of role in the world the British people want us to have. If Dr Fox was to enact this proposal it would be a measure of sheer desperation on the part of the MoD and it would be a decision being made by leaders who have not served on the frontline in the Afghan desert.
Someone has to stand up for our troops and for their families. Few serving soldiers would want to stay beyond their six month tour. The families of our soldiers certainly wouldn’t want their loved ones to be absent any longer than they currently are.
I hope the Defence Secretary sees sense quickly, and reassures our troops that they will not be required to serve twelve month tours in the most dangerous and gruelling of wars.