British Army to face further personnel cuts


The British Army is set to face additional personnel cuts, with another 5 000 soldiers losing their jobs, in addition to the 7 000 redundancies already announced.

This is according to a memo by British Army head General Sir Peter Wall. The Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying, “Although the detailed planning is not yet complete we must assume that these reductions will require the further removal of formed battalions and regiments from the force structure, including the combat arm.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman added, “No one who is preparing for or is deployed on operations will be made redundant unless they volunteer. Only those who have returned from operations and have taken all their leave will be considered.”

Last week UK defence secretary Liam Fox announced long-awaited cuts that will shrink the army from 101 000 to 82 000 by 2020.

The UK army will shrink to its smallest in more than a century as deep cuts are made to help fill a budget hole estimated at 43 billion pounds.

The cuts are in addition to those made during last year’s defence review, which will already cut the army by 7 000 by 2015, when British troops will have pulled out of Afghanistan.

To offset the loss or soldiers, Fox said he wanted to increase the number of reservists of all three branches of the armed forces. One of the reservists’ main tasks would be ‘homeland security’. The Guardian reports defence officials a saying they would like to increase the number of reservists from 20 000 to 35 000 by 2015, at a cost of around 1.5 billion pounds.

Fox’s aim is to have a “total force of around 120 000 broadly in the ratio 70:30 regular to reserve”.

Although the Treasury and Ministry of Defence announced cuts, the armed forces will receive a 1% increase in their equipment budget from 2015 to 2020, worth 3 billion pounds. This money will be used for 14 new Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters, three new Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic intelligence aircraft, upgrading the Army’s Warrior armoured vehicles and purchasing unmanned aerial vehicles for the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The RAF base at Leuchars in Scotland will become an army barracks housing some of the 20 000 British troops who are due to leave Germany by 2020. Consequently, RAF Lossiemouth will be the only remaining air force base in Scotland. Fox said it was “an incredibly complex decision and it has inevitably been a balancing act”.

During his announcements at the House of Commons Fox said: “This government inherited both a national economic disaster that represented a strategic threat, and a defence programme undermined by a 38 billion pound black hole. Without a fundamental review for 12 years, our armed forces were still largely configured for the 20th century despite a decade of sustained operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“This failure to set out a coherent long-term strategy for defence and to effectively match commitments to resources is one of Labour’s worst legacies.”

General Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement: “If we get it right, this will result in a modern, hard-hitting joint force still capable of operating at the divisional level across the full spectrum of conflict. It will deliver armed forces of which we can all be proud.”