All 110,000 Army personnel have been given leave between 14 December and 7 January to help cut the Army’s gas and electricity bills, according to a leaked memo seen by the Daily Mail.
The move, which means all barracks will be empty for nearly a month, was described by chief of staff for land forces General Cullen as an opportunity to ‘fully exploit the utility efficiencies available by closing down buildings/working areas over this period’.
However the decision has met with criticism from some quarters. Former commander Colonel Richard Kemp described the move as ‘sheer desperation’. Speaking to the Daily Mail he said:
“Shutting down the Army for an extended period over Christmas is an act of sheer desperation by military commanders starved of cash by the Government.
Labour defence spokesman Jim Murphy said: “If there is an impact on training, operations or readiness in order to save on gas or electricity bills, we should be told.”
But the government denied that cost-cutting was the motivation. Sources at the Ministry of Defence said: ‘In recognition of the exceptionally busy year the Army has had both on operations and at home …the usual Christmas leave period has been extended.