The Ministry of Defence's Annual Report and Accounts were published today by the Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne.
It remains a very busy period for defence. The UK's Armed Forces are sustaining a high operational tempo in order to contribute to security across the globe. At home, the Armed Forces continue to play a vital role supporting civil authorities including search and rescue, fishery protection and explosive ordnance disposal.
The Annual Report sets out in detail what we are doing, how we are doing it and how we are performing against Public Service Agreement (PSA) Targets. Secretary of State for Defence Des Browne said:
"The Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence delivered not only our highest priority - success on operations - but also all that was required of them during a busy and challenging year.
"I recognise that we are currently asking a lot of our Armed Forces and the personnel who support them, which is why I worked hard to deliver a new operational bonus for them last year.
"I pay tribute to all of our people involved in defence, both military and civilian, and to their skills, professionalism and commitment.
"We owe a continuing debt of gratitude to our brave servicemen and women and to all those who have lost their lives while serving their country."
The report states:
- The Armed Forces remain on course to deliver military objectives. Of the four Iraqi provinces whose security we were responsible for at the beginning of the year, three have been returned to the Iraqi Government and Security Forces. In Afghanistan, we have helped the elected Government extend its authority into the South of the country and supported successful reconstruction work.
- For the second year running the Department met or exceeded its PSA targets for equipment procurement.
- There has been considerable progress in delivering the Service Personnel Plan, which includes the recently increased Operational Bonus of £2,320 and the biggest pay rise in the public sector of 9.2 per cent for junior ranks.
In order to achieve operational success, the department has had to take a level of risk against other defence objectives, including:
- It has not been possible to maintain the high level of readiness achieved in previous years. This does not mean that the Armed Forces cannot support their current operational commitments, but their ability to take on additional operations is limited.
- The continuing high operational tempo has meant that the Army and the RAF did not meet individual separate service or unit harmony guidelines. The Service Personnel Plan continues to make improvement in this area.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, said:
"Not for decades have the UK's Armed Forces sustained such an extended period of intense operational tempo. We do not underestimate the difficulties we face, but thanks to the outstanding abilities and courage of our people we have made progress. And there are several areas where the demands are starting to ease. Force levels in Northern Ireland have now reduced and we have been able to withdraw UK combat forces from the Balkans. Nevertheless, the tempo remains extremely high and we still face many challenges. Meeting these, and supporting our men and women in the front line remains the key focus for us all."
1. The MoD, like all Government Departments, provides an annual report to Parliament on its overall performance. This is combined with the Departmental Resource Accounts in the Annual Report and Accounts, comparable to a company's annual report and accounts. This is complemented by the parallel publication of the MoD's Government Expenditure Plans which sets out plans for Defence expenditure for 2007-08, as set in Spending Review 2004.
2. We are publishing our report and accounts before the summer recess as required by the Government's programme for faster closing of its accounts.
3. The Annual Report can be found online on the MoD website (PDF format, by section)