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Armed Forces: Harmony Guidelines

Volume 685: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking in the short and long term to address breaches of harmony guidelines through the roulement of United Kingdom military forces in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan and in Iraq.[HL7323]

We recognise that, given the increase in the scale of our contribution to Afghanistan in 2006 and our ongoing commitment in Iraq, harmony levels will remain under pressure, at both unit and individual levels. We have put in place a range of short and long-term measures to ameliorate this situation. In the short term this includes: training and recruitment initiatives; financial retention and re-engagement incentives; flexibility in the rank employed in some posts; the mobilisation of Reservists; some contractorisation (where appropriate); and regular reviews of force levels required for each operation.

Over the longer term, the restructuring of the Armed Forces currently under way, particularly in the Army, will help us to achieve an improvement in average tour intervals. Further improvements may come from eventual reductions in UK force levels in a range of theatres, and from appropriate contributions from our allies, which we continue to encourage.