The British Armed Forces have seen a sustained drop in fully trained regular forces, with the British Army falling the furthest short of their strength target.

The British Army now has 77,440 fully trained regular soldiers which is short of their 82,000 target.

The UK Armed Forces Monthly Service Personnel Statistics report shows the British Armed Forces as a whole are 5.6% below their target strength.

The report provides information on the number of Military Personnel in (defined as the strength), joining (intake) and leaving (outflow) the UK Armed Forces.

Detail is provided for both the Full-time Armed Forces and Reserves. Further statistics can be found in the Excel tables.

Key Points and Trends

▼ 195 730 Strength of UK Forces Service Personnel at 1 October 2017 a decrease of 1 380 (0.7 per cent) since 1 October 2016.

▼ 137 280 Full-time Trained Strength (RN/RM & RAF) and Full-time Trade Trained Strength (Army) at 1 October 2017 a decrease of 2 200 (1.6 per cent) since 1 October 2016.

▲ – 5.6% Deficit against the planned number of personnel needed (Liability) at 1 October 2017 an increase in the deficit from –4.3 per cent as at 1 October 2016.

▲ 32 080 Strength of the Trained Future Reserves 2020 at 1 October 2017 an increase of 1 510 (4.9 per cent) since 1 October 2016.

▼ 12 270 People joined the UK Regular Armed Forces
in the past 12 months (1 October 2016 – 30 September 2017)
a decrease of 1 380 (10.1 per cent) compared with the previous 12 month period.

▼ 15 010 People left the UK Regular Armed Forces in the past 12 months (1 October 2016 – 30 September 2017) a decrease of 570 (3.7 per cent) compared with the previous 12 month period.

▼ 6 340 People joined the Future Reserves 2020 in the past 12 months (1 October 2016 – 30 September 2017) a decrease of 950 (13.1 per cent) compared with the previous 12 month period.

▼ 4 990 People left the Future Reserves 2020 in the past 12 months (1 October 2016 – 30 September 2017) a decrease of 40 (0.8 per cent) compared with the previous 12 month period.

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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_391121)
3 years ago

Future Reserves, justifying the cut in the army at the time.
What a predictable failure that was.
Just as army recruitment was outsourced.

David Steeper
David Steeper (@guest_391211)
3 years ago

They’re the only part of the armed forces that are increasing their recruitment rate unlike the regulars !

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_391275)
3 years ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Bu nowhere near meeting the 30,000 target I believe.

Pacman27 (@guest_391127)
3 years ago

Indeed Daniele One of my best mates has been made redundant twice by the MOD now…. the last time as a recruiter. It just does not make sense that we are looking at cutting any part of our force structure when we can’t recruit – especially when the part that we are looking to cut is our best trained and committed force. Time for the Secretary for defence to step in and transfer headcount from the Army to the RN in the short term and get a plan in place for the long term that does not rely so heavily… Read more »

Ben P
Ben P (@guest_391136)
3 years ago
Reply to  Pacman27

The army is badly low on personnel. So no.

Pacman27 (@guest_391240)
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben P


you are really not serious on this – The Army cannot fill headcount – yet we are proposing letting 1500 RM commandoes go.

That is just silly – short term we need to do everything to keep the marines in a job and then fix the rest – unless you believe the Army is about to recruit 5k people overnight.

Common sense has to prevail here – getting rid of elite troops is barking mad.

Tim (@guest_391145)
3 years ago

Anybody know what the split by Corp and Rank is for the 5,000 shortage in the Army? Are we short of Infantry Bayonettes or Cavalry Brass?

David Steeper
David Steeper (@guest_391212)
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim


Lewis (@guest_391175)
3 years ago

Que copy paste empty assurance from the MOD. Having a career politician now in charge as DS gives me zero hope that’s going to change anytime soon.

Mike Saul
Mike Saul (@guest_391190)
3 years ago

HM forces have a massive recruitment and retention problem, it’s not just about quantity it’s also about quality of personnel.

We need a radical solution to this issue, this will include a minimum wage for a trained soldier (completed phase 1 and 2) who completed 2 years service of around £25k, for those who completed 9 years service have the option to go university with fees paid for and a maintenance grant, improved living quarters, subsidised mortgage and annual tax free bounty are a few suggestions.

Pacman27 (@guest_391242)
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

I agree Mike

May also be worth trying to recruit more people in university by paying for fees.

Housing and quality of life are massive issues and the MOD has to adapt to the modern world.

joe (@guest_391208)
3 years ago

There are hundreds of trained jihadis returning to Britain to the welcoming embrace of the Tories.

Surely these lads can fill a gap somewhere?

Mike Saul
Mike Saul (@guest_391218)
3 years ago

Recently read an article that over 5000 Nepalese a year apply to join the British army as Gurkha recruits, usually only 250 are accepted.

One politically unacceptable answer to the quantity problem.

David Steeper
David Steeper (@guest_391268)
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

Well said. But it’s a sensible solution to a problem so don’t hold your breath.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_391278)
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Saul


Always wanted the Brigade of Gurkhas to be expanded to a true brigade, then joined with RM and 16AA into an elite Light Divison.

There are additional squadrons of RLC and R Signals already being formed from Gurkhas and I’d like to see more, but they are component squadrons of existing RLC and RS Regiments.

Pacman27 (@guest_391279)
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Saul

I have trained with these guys and they are exceptional. They are also very nice – never met a wrong un…

We do however need to treat them and Nepal far better than we currently do, perhaps some overseas aid could be directed to them out of the DFID slush fund – sorry budget….

I also think once these guys have done 10 years we need to give them and their families citizenship.

Personal opinion – but I just think we need to do right by them…

DENBO (@guest_391447)
3 years ago

you get what you amalgamated regiments and destroyed what haldane intended so local regts pay peanuts,send them to countries that no one cares about about ignore them when theycome back injured ,you have civvies who have never served in recruiting offices and now you wonder why you cant get recruits.really it is not rocket science to someone inteligent but escapes the MoD

anthony wightman
anthony wightman (@guest_454186)
2 years ago

the MOD and the treasury must be really happy about this situation because of the amount of money they will save on pensions and unfilled pay packets! Mr burns and Smithers in the Simpsons comes to mind! money fight!!!! bombs away!!!