Attrition: The Royal Air Force In Tatters


April 24, 2009: Britain�s Royal Air Force is suffering from shortages of more than just helicopters, spare parts, and pilots. The entire force is facing a massive shortage of manpower in all its branches. This is rapidly reaching a crisis point and is causing some of the Air Force�s rules to be bent, if not broken, in order to sustain operational capabilities. 

 The extent of the problem can be emphasized by the fact that Royal Air Force regulations require that deployed personnel be sent overseas for no more than 140 days per deployment. This applies specifically to pilots, air traffic controllers and weapons officers. Reports vary, but, in contravention of the RAF�s own rules, support personnel, doctors, and nurses have seen deployment periods that range from a few days over the maximum limit, 140, to extremes of 160 days in theatre at a time. 

Other specialists such as mechanics and intelligence analysts, are in pathetically short supply. The situation has gotten so bad the RAF is lacking 13 percent of the specialists that it needs in those occupations in order to operate at maximum efficiency. Another element of the service that has been hard-hit is the medical branch.

 The ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are, unsurprisingly, the primary culprits of this shortage. It's been known for years that the RAF and many air forces around the world were consistently facing shortages, sometimes severe, of pilots, but the wars have caused the manpower crisis to infect other areas that are just as important. Things like keeping the planes flying and gathering the intelligence needed to determine which targets to hit on the ground, as well as treating casualties. 

In addition to the ongoing wars Britain is trying to wage at the same time, two other factors are emerging that have got the government�s attention. The first, obviously is money, namely the current Labor government's consistent slashing of the Air Force�s budget, and the defense budget in general, which leaves little money left over for salaries and benefits. Secondly, because of either the stress of the job or the aforementioned low pay, hundreds of RAF personnel from all specialties have been resigning their posts recently in order to look for less hectic, and higher paying, jobs. Without more money, more people, and shorter deployment periods, the RAF�s contribution to operations in Afghanistan may be jeopardized.  



Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close