The British Army’s full-time size has fallen to just 75,880 personnel, over 6,000 below its government set target, according to new figures.
The Ministry of Defence’s latest personnel statistics also revealed that the Armed Forces as a whole is over 9,000 personnel short of its 2020 target, set after the last Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015.
The ‘full-time trained strength’ of the armed forces – all personnel that have completed full training – is currently at 134,990. Their target us set at 144,200.
Just 11,090 people have joined the regular armed forces in the last 12 months, a fall of 15% from the previous 12 month period. By contrast, over 14,700 people have left in the last 12 months.
"This change will enable the Army to meet the SDSR 15 commitment to support UK resilience" – the change enables the Army to say its size is currently 79,160
I’ve always ignored that figure, instead choosing to focus on the number of personnel who are ACTUALLY trained: 75,880….
— Henry Jones (@hthjones) February 21, 2019
Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith described the figures as “shocking”, accusing Conservative Ministers of having “no plan whatsoever to stem this appalling decline”.
“At a time when our country faces growing security challenges, it is simply unacceptable for the Government to be running down our Armed Forces in this way.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson however defended the figures, saying:
“We are fully committed to improving our recruitment process and we are working with Capita to ensure any challenges are being addressed. The Armed Forces continues to meet all of its operational commitments to keep Britain safe.”
Despite the figures, the Ministry of Defence remain confident their shortfalls can be rectified. They point out that the Army has conducted a full review of their recruitment strategy and that soldier applications are now at a five year high.
A spokesperson also told the UK Defence Journal that “the figures in the report are historical and it can take time to see long term improvements captured in the recruitment data, particularly from a soldier’s application through to trained strength capability”.