The British Army has been granted an extra five days holiday this Christmas in recognition of their hard work during 2012.
Defence officials have ordered staff to take leave for 25 days between December 14 and January 7 to say thank you for their service during the London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee.
The extra holiday will allow buildings to be closed, cutting utility costs, and staff will have the option of working from home.
The move has been criticised as a cost-cutting exercise dressed up as a good will gesture by one former Army official.
Richard Kemp, a former commander of UK ground forces in Afghanistan, told The Sunday Times: "Shutting down the army for an extended period over Christmas is an act of sheer desperation by military commanders starved of cash by the Government.
"The troops themselves will welcome the extra time off.
"But nevertheless, to an Army at war this sends an insulting and morale-sapping message that makes it entirely clear just where spending priorities do not lie."
He added: "For a few office-bound staff home-working might be possible, but even among these the majority are tied to classified and networked computer systems that they do not have at home."
An Army spokesman said: "To suggest the Christmas Leave plan is a cost-cutting measure is ridiculous.
"In recognition of the exceptionally busy year the Army has had both on operations and at home - including vital support to the 2012 London Olympics, fuel tanker drivers strike and Diamond Jubilee - the usual Christmas leave period has been extended.
"Personnel who are essential to supporting operations will remain on task regardless of this leave period and there will be no impact to the mission in Afghanistan."Suggest a correction