Newport East MP Jessica Morden has challenged the UK Government on the falling numbers of UK armed forces personnel.
Speaking in Defence Questions, Jessica Morden said:
“Independent analysis by the House of Commons Library has found that Army numbers could fall to just 65,000 by the end of this Parliament if the current rate of decline continues. Instead of giving us more warm words, can the Minister tell us what specific steps his Department is taking to avoid that?”
In response, Defence minister Johnny Mercer said:
“On recruitment, we are at just under 100% of our year-long target, which comes round in April. More people are looking to join the Army than we have seen since 2010. There is a massively positive story to tell. There are no plans to reduce the number of armed forces personnel. It is a fantastic time to join up.”
Last year, we reported that the Armed Forces were 9,900 trained personnel short of their government set target. The British Army is also over 4,600 personnel smaller than it was 3 years ago.
Under the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the Armed Forces need to have 144,200 trained personnel by 2020. They’re currently at 134,300, with the number having fallen continually since 2016. Doubts have now been raised over the Ministry of Defence’s ability to meet the target.
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson defended the figures, telling the UK Defence Journal:
“The Armed Forces continue to meet all of its operational commitments to keep Britain safe. We are fully committed to improving our recruitment process, including working with Capita to ensure any challenges are being addressed.”