On 5 June 2009, he was appointed to the cabinet by Gordon Brown as Secretary of State for Defence, in what was considered by some to be "a surprise choice". As Defence Secretary, Ainsworth declared in July 2009 that "the government should have offered more support to British troops at the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," a comment that provoked former Chief of Defence Staff General Lord Guthrie to accuse Ainsworth of not understanding "leadership in war". At the Labour Party Conference in Brighton in 2009, Ainsworth stated that sending reinforcements to Afghanistan may not be possible because of a lack of necessary military resources. He said, "Before I agree to any increase in troop numbers I must be sure that the balance of risk is acceptable by evaluating the capacity of the supply chain to properly equip the increased force."
Well, to paraphrase the old saying; `you can take the shop steward out of the car factory.......`