Written by Harry Porter
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Topics: Britain, Government

Thursday, 22 July 2004

image for Military chiefs hide weapons from Blair
Disgruntled servicemen in the Maldives

Britain's military top brass were behind the massive defence cuts announced by the Government.

And in an astonishing outburst Major General Howard Crosswell, Chief of Staff, said: "The Prime Minister has used the armed forces as though they were his personal toys. We've taken them away from him and he deserves a smack."

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon's supposed cuts covered the Army, Navy and Air Force and immediately drew criticism for destroying the UK's military tradition, as well displaying a callous attitude to those serving in war-ravaged Iraq.

But now it emerges that the targeted soldiers, ships and squadrons are simply being hidden from the Labour Government in secret locations across the globe with Prime Minister Tony Blair being forced to say he no longer needed a full-strength capability.

Two destroyers and three frigates have reportedly been repainted and are now anchored off a whaling station near the Shetland Islands where they are operating as hotels, casinos and restaurants for locals and the crews of factory ships.

And three squadrons of Tornados were last seen in rapid descent over an airstrip on one of the most westerly islands in the Maldives.

Military sources say the Butler Report into the case for war with Iraq was the last straw for brassed-off top brass.

The report showed intelligence to be unreliable and, at times, tailored, to strengthen Blair's arguments for a pre-emptive strike against Saddam Hussein.

Major Crosswell said: "The British armed forces are amongst the best in the world and not to be used on a whim or for political expediency, so we've hidden all we can from the Prime Minister.

"These elements of our forces, whether they are Army, Navy or Air Force, will resume duties when the Government promises to start behaving itself.

"We will only bring them out of hiding at the behest of Her Majesty The Queen, and if it is in the national interest.

"Under this Government we have been forced to man fire engines during a time of industrial action, cremate cattle during the foot and mouth epidemic, and fight a war that didn't need fighting.

"We are not toy soldiers but, since we are being treated as such, we have gone back into our toy box and will not come out until Mr Blair says sorry."

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