Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

No Army wounded job cuts - Hammond

A leaked classified memo suggested as many as 16,500 Army personnel could be made redundant by April 2015

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond sought to reassure frontline troops over their futures as he dismissed a leaked memo suggesting wounded soldiers could be made redundant as "incorrect".

A document seen by the Daily Telegraph suggested up to 16,500 personnel may be axed - more than announced so far - and that 2,500 injured personnel, including 350 who had lost limbs, were vulnerable to redundancy.

But the Ministry of Defence said it was the work of a relatively junior officer engaged in an exercise to look at all options and insisted there was no prospect of protection for the wounded being relaxed.

Mr Hammond flew back from his first visit to troops in Afghanistan in his new role straight in a storm over the report - on the eve of Remembrance Sunday and national ceremonies to remember the war dead.

"The so-called leaked document is a memo that was written by a junior Army officer and, frankly, is incorrect," he said in a statement.

"We haven't changed our position. My predecessor announced the reductions in force numbers that the Army will achieve over the remainder of this decade to 2020. We have no plans to change those numbers.

"We have no plans to change the arrangements for dealing with personnel who have been injured. Anyone who is injured, who is undergoing medical treatment, will not be eligible for consideration for a redundancy programme."

The Army has been told to slash its numbers by almost a fifth to 82,000 by 2020 as a result of the Strategic Defence and Security Review of the UK's military requirements last year.

More than 900 soldiers were among 2,870 service personnel who lost their jobs in the first round of redundancies earlier this year - with future tranches yet to be announced.

In July, Army chiefs warned that an extra 5,000 soldiers faced the axe by 2015, on top of the 7,000 redundancies announced for the first phase, which has already begun.

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