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MoD: We are working people harder but there is no overstretch

Interviewed this morning, Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey acknowledged that defence personnel were being "worked harder", but he rejected the Defence Committee's claims that cuts will affect the military's capability to fulfil its tasks.

Nick Harvey rejects findings of Commons defence select committee report that says cuts will affect military's 'capability to undertake all that is being asked of them'

The armed forces minister, Nick Harvey, has rejected claims the British military is "overstretched" following a damning report by MPs that calls into question the government's defence strategy and spending plans.

The report, by the Commons defence select committee, said the armed forces had been so hard hit by spending cuts announced in last year's strategic defence and security review (SDSR) that they might not be able to do all that is asked of them after 2015.

It also criticised the government's decision to enter into a military campaign in Libya while at the same time cutting the budget.

In an interview with Sky news, Harvey admitted the armed forces would be faced with some "capability gaps" over the next decade.

But, speaking later on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said: "I don't accept that we're overstretched. This is within the defence planning assumptions; this is within the capabilities that we have at our disposal, but I do readily acknowledge that we're working people and kit very hard." Participating in Nato's Libya operation, he added, was "well within the range of the things" possible.

"We don't know what ... will come up but we had the capacity to handle both long-scale enduring operations and some of these ad-hoc ones that come along, and Libya is an ad-hoc one that has come along.

"Now, of course, with less manpower and fewer assets than we had previously, we're working both people and assets harder but this is well within the range of capabilities that we have, and I don't accept that this is in some way untenable or unsustainable," he added. ...

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