This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
HUNDREDS of military personnel responsible for the detection of chemical weapons were axed by the government back in 2011 and now it’s forking out £48 million for a new defence centre.
Tory Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday that the money would be used for a new chemical weapons centre in Porton Down in response to the alleged nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in nearby Salisbury.
But, six years ago, the Con-Dems slashed 319 personnel employed at the MoD unit solely responsible for chemical weapons defence.
According to a government newsletter published in October 2011, the Con-Dems dissolved the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) force, part of the British army, in 2011 in order to save £129m over 10 years.
The unit is currently known as the Defence CBRN Wing and is responsible for detecting use of biological warfare agents, decontamination, sampling, identification and transportation of these substances — but now with a much-reduced capacity.
The responsibility was transferred from the Royal Tank Regiment to the RAF under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, four years after the fatal polonium poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in a sushi restaurant in London.
Wing Commander Lee Taylor, who was then commandant of the CBRN Force, warns personnel in the CBRN newsletter that the cuts will produce “an unsettling and challenging period for all of us.”
Former commanding officer from 2004 to 2007 Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said that the regiment was disbanded because it was considered to be “a relic of the cold war.”
With regards to the alleged attempted murder of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4, he told the Telegraph: “All the more sobering, therefore, to see virtually all our remaining assets in chemical defence deployed on the streets of Salisbury today to deal with what is probably less than an egg cup full of nerve agent.
“After Salisbury, that capability must surely be rebuilt. Much more difficult, however, will be putting the genie of chemical and biological weapons back in its bottle.”
The Star contacted the MoD for comment regarding the cuts to staff.
A spokesman said: “The wing has sufficient posts to fulfil the required tasks, all capabilities are kept under review. We have seen the bravery and expertise of our CBRN teams this week in Salisbury.
“We have recently launched the modernising defence programme to strengthen our armed forces in the face of intensifying threats.”
Meanwhile, Mr Williamson was roundly ridiculed yesterday for telling Russia to “go away and shut up” over the 23 diplomats being expelled from Britain.
The Tories had accepted £30,000 from the wife of former Russian deputy finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin to have dinner with Mr Williamson, it was revealed earlier this week.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.