Thousands more army jobs in firing line

Reports suggest 3,000 roles to go in new wave of cuts. Picture: Ed Jones
Reports suggest 3,000 roles to go in new wave of cuts. Picture: Ed Jones
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The UK government is to have another round of army redundancies, it has emerged.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed there are more cuts on the way, though numbers involved are unclear.

Reports suggested the army would cut around 3,000 jobs this year, but a government source said the figure under discussion was lower.

It is known that the regular army is being cut from 102,000 to 82,000 over a number of years while the newly renamed Army Reserve – formerly the Territorial Army – is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

It is thought the latest losses are planned as the final wave of job cuts that will see the army lose 20,000 posts by 2020. Thousands of jobs have already gone in the past three years.

In June last year nearly 4,500 army personnel were told they had been made redundant in the third and biggest round of job cuts since the 2010 defence review.

The latest cuts come despite the army starting a recruitment campaign for both regular troops and reservists after saying it was struggling to attract applicants. Mr Hammond said a television advertising push would “dispel forever the myth that somehow the army isn’t recruiting”.

He added: “Yes, the regular army will be smaller in the future than it has been in the past, and yes, there will be one further round of redundancies unfortunately, but that does not mean that the army is not recruiting.

“Because the army is an organisation which always recruits people at the bottom and trains them up and allows them to progress through the system, we always have to be recruiting.”

Mr Hammond said 2013 “was not a good year for recruitment”.

January will also see the Ministry of Defence launching a simplified online application form, a more streamlined clearance process and an army fitness app to make it easier for potential recruits to join. It has so far failed to meet its Army Reserve target of 30,000.

Conservative MP and former soldier John Baron criticised the government’s plans. He said: “The plans to replace 20,000 regulars with 30,000 reservists is fundamentally flawed, both because I think it’s going to cost a lot more than government envisages to actually execute … but also, there’s a capability gap.

“The original plan was to hold the 20,000 regulars in place until we knew that the reservist plan was going to work. That plan was changed to save money; we’re trying to get defence on the cheap and now we’re seeing the result of that because we know that there are real problems with trying to recruit.”

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said the campaign was a welcome step towards acknowledging Labour’s concerns that there would be a significant capability gap in the army. He added: “Labour previously called for the government to pause its reductions to numbers in the regular army until it was clear there could be adequate uplift in the numbers of reserves. We hope the recruitment campaign is a success. This really is the last chance for the government to get its army reform plans back on track.”

Speaking about life in the army, Chief of the General Staff, Gen Sir Peter Wall, said: “The army offers people unique opportunities for challenge and adventure, both at home and overseas, during peacetime and on operations.”