Saturday, July 7, 2007

£2.2bn Army boot sale funds Iraq and Afghanistan wars

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The Ministry of Defence has sold off historic barracks and land worth more than £2.2 billion to fund the spiralling cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Figures show ministers have met about half the cost of the conflicts by selling armed forces assets, including accommodation, airstrips, sports fields, military hospitals and firing ranges.

The true cost of the invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein and driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan has never officially been released, but the respected Iraq Analysis Group has estimated that the MoD has spent in the region of £5 billion to fund the wars.

Critics claim the money raked in by the Treasury should have been spent on better housing and equipment for troops.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that since 1998, Defence Estates - the MoD organisation responsible for managing land and buildings - sold assets totalling £2.2 billion, including 12,446 hectares of land for housing and business developments.

Chelsea Barracks has been sold to housing developers for a reported £900 million.

Nearly 150 years of military tradition will come to an end when the prime location between Sloane Square and the Thames is vacated next year.

The Duke of York Barracks in Chelsea fetched £94 million.

Thousands of married quarters up and down the country have been snapped up by developers, as have former aerodromes.

The Second World War airfield at RAF Hendon is being transformed into one of the country's biggest residential estates.

The figures were uncovered by Lord Trefgarne, a former Conservative defence minister under Margaret Thatcher.

Experts predict the cost of the Iraq war to the British taxpayer will exceed £1 billion this year for the first time since the invasion in 2003.

Source : DailyMail

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