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Planned job cuts threaten UK intelligence, union warns

London, Feb 15, IRNA ,Prospect union for professionals warned Friday that planned job cuts in Britain’s Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) will increase the chances of an intelligence failure and could hit policy making decisions.

A reduction of 121 posts, equivalent to more than 20 per cent of DIS “would seriously undermine the quality of assessed intelligence provided to both the MoD and to the UK’s central intelligence apparatus,” the union said.

It said that cuts of the size envisaged are “likely to mean either that the DIS loses important perspectives to its work or it simply does everything less well.”
“Either way greatly increases the chances of an intelligence failure and is likely to lead to less well-informed operational planning, policy-making and procurement decisions,” warned the union, which has more than 102,000 members.

It said that the proposed cuts will also “weaken the UK’s efforts to counter weapons proliferation, narcotics and terrorism.” The DIS analyses information from Britain’s other intelligence services as well as for the Ministry of Defence, including for the overseas operation in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Former Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence John Morrison said the losses would be ridiculous as the cuts were based on an MoD streamlining plan which aims to squeeze staff into fewer buildings with little view as to how this affects the intelligence community.

“It’s totally ludicrous and it just seems to be a desire to come down to only one building, the main building, which simply isn’t big enough to hold all the DIS and therefore they must be cut. It is nonsense,” Morrison said.

“It would mean that the DIS would have to give up large areas of work at a time when the requirements levied on the intelligence community are growing continuously,” he told the BBC.

A review of the failures over Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction carried out by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler in 2004 described the DIS as a “vital component of and contributor to the national intelligence machinery”.

The review was critical of the way in which the key intelligence that formed the basis of the government’s discredited Iraq arms dossier was withheld from the experts on weapons of mass destruction in DIS.

But according to the BBC, the MoD is insisting that no decisions have been taken about the cuts and that “intelligence capability will not be compromised.”
“We recognise the DIS contribution to the wider intelligence community and there would be wide consultation with the intelligence and security community to determine any impact of change,” it said.