The Times reported that there were discussions in place to reduce the Army’s numbers to between 60,000 and 65,000.
Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace MP, responded:
“This is total rubbish. There are no plans to shrink the armed forces. There are however plans to increase army recruiting levels.”
For the record: there are no plans to shrink the Army. In fact my direction to the Army has been to improve recruiting and retention levels. In the Manifesto there will be new policies to help. This story is nonsense @Conservatives https://t.co/rGYZbheAW1
— Rt. Hon Ben Wallace (@BWallaceMP) November 24, 2019
“This story is nonsense,” Mr Wallace said.
Regarding recruitment, the Army needs 10,000 recruits a year to maintain a frontline strength of 82,500 but has had issues reaching this figure. So serious are these issues that the previous Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson had even went as far to say thatthe Ministry of Defence has looked at the possibility of taking the armed forces recruitment contract back in-house.
At a House of Commons Select Committee, after hearing that less than 60% of the target had been met, Williamson said:
“If it becomes apparent in the next financial year that Capita are continuing to fail in what they do, we are going to have to look at different options in terms of the contract. We have started to see a turnaround in the number of recruits and that is starting to head in the right direction. If it doesn’t continue in the right direction, they will have to be relieved of their contract and we will have to look at different ways to deliver it.”
A Capita spokesperson said:
“The Army recruitment partnership between the British Army and Capita was re-set last year to ensure a closer working relationship that will deliver significant improvements in performance. Indications of improved performance are good: applications are at a five-year high and the length of time it takes from application to starting basic training has reduced by 20%, with the quickest candidate receiving a job offer just 22 days after applying.”