Equipment shortages in the military have hit the headlines again, with the latest from senior military figures indicating that squeezed funds have left barely enough equipment to properly equip 40,000 soldiers – less than half of the Army’s 82,000 standing strength, according to Theresa May’s former adviser Nick Timothy.
These new revelations come against the backdrop of stark warnings from senior military figures, not least Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood, all calling for more funds. And this isn’t just about money.
The alleged comments relayed to Mr Timothy suggest that a whole swathe of the Army’s equipment is woefully out of date.
Although the environment in which service personnel work is unique, the MoD has exactly the same duties as any other employer: It must ensure that work equipment is appropriate, safe and kept in a good state of repair.
This means that equipment has to be regularly inspected and updated where necessary. It must also ensure that personnel are trained appropriately and understand the risks.
If the Army is left without equipment, or with equipment that isn’t safe or fit for purpose, then soldiers may be injured, or worse.
They may be entitled to bring claims in compensation against the MoD.
This may be in relation to military exercises and training at home, but also in relation to engagements abroad.
The Snatch Land Rover cases heard in the Supreme Court in 2013 determined for the first time that service personnel were entitled to bring civil claims for compensation in relation to injuries suffered in combat if they could prove negligence in the preparations for battle, which may include a failure to provide the right equipment.
Nowhere has the failure to train and equip been clearer than the ever-present spectre of non-freezing cold injuries (NFCI), suffered by hundreds of soldiers every year.
This injury occurs when soldiers are exposed to cold and wet conditions for too long.
It can result in a significant neurological injury. Soldiers suffering with NFCI often lose their careers because of their medical restrictions and have then to find work in an indoor environment.
Crucially, these debilitating injuries can be easily avoided with the right training and cold weather equipment.
The consequences are clear.
The MoD has to put the safety of soldiers first and make sure the proper funding and equipment is allocated to the military before injuries are caused and lives are lost needlessly.