Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox told The Guardian newspaper that the Ministry of Defence had to accept some of the blame for the depth of cuts to the military budget that had led to thousands of redundancies.
He said: “I think the MoD consistently dug a hole for itself that it eventually found that it could not climb out of.”
But Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said Dr Fox had to take responsibility for what was happening.
“Liam Fox is not the victim but the author of his defence review, which ahs left holes in our equipment programme and is sacking thousands of service personnel, including those who have served on the front line,” he said.
Of 810 sailors who applied for redundancy, only 670 of them will be allowed to leave.
Reports this week said that navy personnel who risked their lives during the Libyan campaign, including crew members of HMS Cumberland, which helped rescue British citizens from the North African country in February, were among those being sacked.
The MoD stressed that nobody deployed on operations, preparing for operations or on post-tour leave on the day redundancy notices are issued would be forced out of their job.
The crisis reached its peak at the end of Gordon Brown’s time as prime minister, he said. “I think there had been a loss (of trust) and in the latter part of the Brown government there was an almost complete breakdown between the MoD and the Treasury and the MoD and No 10.”