Conservative backbench MPs urge halt to Army reductions

British army soldiers The British army is is shrinking from 102,000 to 82,000 professional soldiers

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Cutting a fifth of the Army's full-time soldiers is a "high risk" strategy that could harm British military capabilities, a group of Conservative MPs has warned the defence secretary.

Some 25 backbenchers wrote to Philip Hammond urging him to stop disbanding units, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

They also expressed concern the plan to replace regular troops with reservists was struggling due to poor recruitment.

The MoD said it was confident of signing up the people it needed.

The government's plan for the future of the military involves cutting the regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000 and increasing the number of reservists - the Army Reserve, formerly known as the Territorial Army - by 11,000.

'Uncertain world'

The Ministry of Defence confirmed it had received the letter, organised by backbencher John Baron.

In it, the MPs urged the government to stop cuts to regular units "at the very least... until we are sure that the Army Reserve plans will work" - the paper reported.

They said the current strategy was "clearly born of financial necessity and not strategic design", and was "high-risk in this increasingly uncertain world".

"We suggest that the government's reservist plans are already having a distorting effect on the ground," they added.

"Well-recruited battalions are being disbanded whilst more poorly-recruited - and therefore expensive - battalions are being preserved. Such a policy simply reinforces failure."

Mr Baron said the letter had been prompted by recent reports that the Army Reserve was already missing its recruitment targets.

'Tough decisions'

But the MoD insisted it was confident it would get enough reservists.

An MoD spokesman said: "Tough decisions had to be taken to tackle the multi-billion pound deficit left behind in defence by the previous government.

"We are reshaping our armed forces to ensure they are properly equipped and more adaptable to future challenges and threats.

"To bring us better into line with our closest allies, who make much more use of reserve forces, we are investing £1.8bn in more modern equipment, increased training and incentives as we build a fully integrated Army with regulars and reserves training and operating alongside each other.

"The Army is confident of its ability to increase the Army Reserve from a trained strength of 19,000 to 30,000."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    Let' stop calling them the Army, Navy & Air Force and call them the British Defence Forces as reminder to politicians of exactly how they should be deployed. Britain doesn't have an 'empire' to patrol (subjugate) anymore and doesn't require a large standing army, What is does require is a flexible integrated rapid reaction force.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    I'm all for cuts to the armed forces, as soon as the powers that stop advocating and joining wars that do not concern us. Our Forces should be good enough for defense of Britain and the overseas territory, not for perpetual war in the middle east.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    This is not only sad but has got to be one of the most crazy things ever,
    The threat of thermal nuclear war still exists over the Syrian situation Russia - China - Iran have made there points clear if the USA do attack Syria, and now our government want to reduce our armed forces by letting go Professional battle harden troops an replace them with
    troops not seen combat, this is Crazy NO NO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    NO NO NO Don't you think our troops have suffered enough without the threat of redundancy hanging over them.
    You send them to war torn regions with inadequate kit and supplies and then expect them to fight a war.
    Now you want to take away their livelihood
    There isn't that many PE teacher positions available

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    The Armed Forces aren't and shouldn't be immune from spending cuts, the problem is where the cuts have taken place. After nearly 30 yrs in the military I can say with certainty that our Armed Forces are top heavy with officers, particularly the RAF. However, since it's officers who decide who gets the chop, it's no surprise that their numbers have remained relatively constant over the last 20 yrs!


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