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Armed Forces: Deployment

Volume 470: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government have taken to improve the morale of armed forces personnel on operational duty. (179179)

The MOD spends some £54 million per year on the provision of welfare services for our forces on operations. The exact provision of welfare facilities is dependent on location and the operational situation, but wherever possible personnel should receive 30 minutes of free telephone calls per week to anywhere in the world; free e-mail and internet access; a free forces aerogramme (bluey), e-bluey, fax bluey and photo bluey service; a free postal packet service; access to TVs, radios, DVD players and video gaming machines; British Forces Broadcasting Service TV and radio transmissions; books, newspapers, magazines and board games; combined services entertainment live shows and celebrity visits; rest and recuperation (R and R); the provision of basic shop facilities; a free Christmas box; the provision of financial assistance to home units to assist with families' welfare; the provision of concessionary families' travel; and post deployment leave. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the nature of some operations means that our personnel can often be deployed from a permanent base to a forward operating base where facilities are necessarily more basic, but even in these situations we aim to provide iridium satellite telephones and Textlink e-mail/SMS messaging terminals as a minimum.

The morale of our forces personnel in operational areas is good.