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British army makes 4,480 soldiers redundant

Published on Tuesday, 18 Jun 2013
George Osborne, UK chancellor of the exchequer (Bloomberg)
British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond (second from right) arrives to visit British troops in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, on 14 June 2013. (EPA)

LONDON: More than 4,000 British soldiers have been handed redundancy notices as the army carries out its plan to reduce personnel numbers to 82,000 by 2018 from more than 100,000 three years ago.

In the biggest single cut to the size of the army, 4,480 soldiers have been made redundant. In the third of what officials described as “across-the-board salami slices”, the Ministry of Defence said 84 per cent of those affected had applied for redundancy.

No personnel preparing for, serving on, or recovering from deployments lost their jobs unless they applied for redundancy.

Personnel with serious injuries sustained on operations were also exempt from the cuts. However, officials say those in these categories could be made redundant in the final round of cuts next year.

Those who applied for voluntary redundancy will leave on or before 17 December, and those who did not will leave on or before 17 June 2014.

There will be no new reductions in the army as a result of the latest spending review, due to be announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on 26 June. The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, has already negotiated a 1 per cent increase in the defence equipment programme, but is having to find a 5 per cent cut in his overall budget for 2015-16.

Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, showed little sympathy for the army when he said last week it had “more horses than tanks”. The army has been getting rid of many of its tanks, now seen as less relevant in modern warfare.

Defence chiefs hope the number of reservists will double to 30,000 by 2018, but whether they attain this objective will depend to a great extent on the attitude of employers.

The army says it will continue to attract new recruits – some 10,000 soldiers and officers this year – to keep a balanced rank structure and age range.

General Sir Peter Wall, the head of the army, said the redundancies were “a difficult but essential step towards our army 2020 structure. We owe our sincere gratitude to those leaving the army for their service over such a demanding period of operations.”

Wall warned last week that gaps between military resources and planned capabilities caused by spending cuts “could become quite dangerous, quite quickly”.

Hammond said: “Although smaller, our armed forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future, with the protection and equipment they need. They will continue to be the bedrock of our society and provide extremely rewarding and exciting careers for future recruits.”

(Guardian News Service)

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