A regular infantry battalion has some thirty-odd officers. In the last six months of 2007, as The Herald reports, some 1350 officers left the Army, a rate which is double that of the previous year. To put it in context, that figure is greater than the number of officers required for all of the Army’s regular infantry battalions.

More alarming still is the fact that the vast majority of these were Majors and Captains, the key middle-ranking officers who lie at the backbone of the Army. The figures mean that 5790 officers have left since the Iraq war began in 2003 whilst only some 4500 have since joined. The Territorial Army too has seen a net loss of officers, having recruited and retained only 677 of the 1290 junior officers it needs since 2003.

By all accounts senior army officers are alarmed, as well they might be. If this sort of attrition continues the Army will be a pale shadow of its former self within a very short space of time. Whatever the ultimate agenda of the five former senior officers who last year tore into Gordon Brown, both personally and as Prime Minister, may be, their strictures that the government in general and Gordon Brown personally have been neglectful and, indeed, contemptuous of the Army and the other services are thus alarmingly reinforced.

This news should act as a wake-up call to the Government that to continue treating the Armed Forces as they have done will end in considerable long-term damage to them which will take years to reverse and, in the end, cost more money in real terms than would be the case if they acted now.

Meanwhile the Government fiddles whilst Rome burns as the man charged with running not one but two wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, remains a part-time appointee, Des Browne having the additional responsibility of being Secretary of State for Scotland.

Our young men continue to be killed, maimed and wounded on active service. They deserve better than the treatment this government gives them and the contempt which this so fully demonstrates the government has for them.

So, next time Gordon Brown gets up at Prime Minister’s Questions and comes over all sympathetic to the family of this or that Rifleman or Fusilier who is the latest fatality, remember that these are but crocodile tears from a man who was never, when in the Treasury, concerned enough about the military, to go round and see the Service Chiefs and whose principal use for the services is as a useful prop in the spin cycle of his propaganda machine.