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Quarter of soldiers 'want to quit'

Published 22/05/2015

The armed forces are preparing for £35 billion of budget cuts in the next decade and the loss of up to 30,000 troops, according to research
The armed forces are preparing for £35 billion of budget cuts in the next decade and the loss of up to 30,000 troops, according to research

A quarter of British military personnel want to quit the armed forces, a survey by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has found.

Those who plan to leave or have put in their notice increased by nine percentage points since 2011, with the number planning to stay in the job long-term also down.

In total, 25% of personnel across the Navy, Army, Marines and RAF said they planned to leave before the end of their " current engagement or commission, or as soon as they can, or have put in notice to leave". The figure was 16% in the 2011 survey.

Those planning to stay in the service for as long as they can has fallen seven percentage points since 2011 to 34%.

The number of personnel who expressed dissatisfaction with service life is borne out in the figures, which were released as part of the armed forces' annual attitude survey. The figure has risen five percentage points since last year to 32%.

The findings come as the armed forces prepare for £35 billion of budget cuts in the next decade and the loss of up to 30,000 troops, according to research by The Royal United Services Institute.

The attitudes survey also indicated only 5% of respondents had actually handed in their notice and the MoD said the "total outflow of personnel" had been falling.

Morale among officers has also risen, but less than half still rated their morale as "high" - with 45% saying so, compared to 41% in 2014.

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said: "The situation has gone from bad to worse over the past five years and is unlikely to get any better with the Tories' current plans.

"The morale of our armed forces is of the utmost importance and the Government needs to urgently address the issues that are making so many want to leave the forces."

In March the former head of the RAF Sir Michael Graydon said defence chiefs should be prepared to resign en masse if any further cuts in the armed forces are imposed by the Government.

Asked directly if they should tender their resignations if they were ordered to make further cuts, he said: "Yes".

He went on: "We know that the chiefs have made their views known to the defence secretary. That is their preferred route.

"But you cannot continue down this route and pretend you are capable of doing all the things the Government asks you to do."

An MoD spokeswoman said: "We continually strive to ensure our people feel valued and that their contribution and sacrifice is recognised. That is why we invest in a range of measures to improve service life, from welfare support to accommodation, while prioritising the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant.

"We have been seeing results; total outflow of personnel has been falling for the last three years.

"We remain on course to meet Future Force 2020 targets as we move towards the agile and flexible force needed to keep us safe at home and abroad."

The 2015 Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey was responded to by 11,877 trained personnel between October 2014 and February 2015.

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