By politics.co.uk staff
The way British soldiers are being treated between tours of duty to Afghanistan could damage their long-term retention, the head of the Army has warned.
General Sir David Richards warned Ministry of Defence officials in a memorandum published by the Sunday Times that he was worried about the impact on morale of soldiers' experience between deployments.
"The deteriorating experience of soldiers and their families in the period between tours... is disaffecting attitudes, damaging morale and risks undermining our ability to sustain the campaign over the next years," he warned.
"We need our soldiers to be ready, mentally and physically, to endure repeated tours in Afghanistan in a harsh environment, with the real prospect of significant casualties each time."
Gen Richards' comments come in a period of huge competition between the armed services as preparations for the strategic defence review, which will take place immediately after the general election, reassesses Britain's defence priorities.
"Investing in the deployed operation is only part of the requirement," he added.
"Support to our service personnel between deployments and to their families' quality of life must become a fundamental tenet of sustaining the main effort."