Letter: In defence of forces staffing

RE GERALD Warner's article on defence (Strictly Speaking, 30 May), there are a couple of points which need to be challenged.

I don't doubt his figures of 88,000 civil servants in the Ministry of Defence as opposed to 92,000 fighting soldiers. I presume Mr Warner is including RN and the RAF in the latter total, otherwise his argument becomes hopelessly skewed.

First of all it takes several civilian support staff to keep a soldier "in the field". Logistically you need a chain of supply and you cannot dissipate your frontline troops on this work.

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Secondly, while I can't speak for the Army or the RAF, I can assure him that the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels are crewed by Merchant Navy personnel. Not only that, the supply ships also carry a work party of MoD staff. These people take exactly the same risks as the crews of the fighting ships and they have their campaign medals to prove it.

So, while I enjoy Mr Warner's articles, I would suggest a little more research in future.

William Armstrong, Dalgety Bay, Dunfermline