A senior Army chief has warned of a fresh wave of redundancies that will wipe out entire battalions and regiments, a leaked letter to commanding officers has revealed.
General Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff (CGS), said an additional 5,000 soldiers will be made redundant on top of the 7,000 the Government has already announced.
That will lead to an "inevitable" new redundancy programme and the "disbanding" of battalions, he revealed in a letter seen by the Daily Telegraph.
Gen Wall said he regretted the "sobering" impact it would have on troops and their families. He wrote: "Regular Army manpower will be cut more steeply with an additional reduction of 5,000 over and above the 7,000 already in progress as a result of the SDSR (Strategic Defence and Security Review). This takes the Army to around 90,000 by 2015. The additional manpower cuts are now being scoped but will inevitably require a further redundancy programme.
"Although detailed planning is not yet complete we must assume that these reductions will require the further removal of formed battalions and further regiments from the force structure, including the combat arm."
This comes after Defence Secretary Liam Fox announced last week he was ploughing resources into the Territorial Army so more "properly trained and equipped" reservists soldiers were ready for frontline duties. In turn, the Army would be cut to 82,000 by 2020.
The Ministry of Defence insists no one about to embark on a tour of duty in Afghanistan would be made redundant unless they put themselves forward.
A spokesman said: "The Defence Secretary has agreed with CGS that we will move gradually towards the new Army structure so operations are not adversely affected by additional reductions in regular Army numbers, which will be made as we drawdown our commitments in Afghanistan in 2014/15.
"No one who is preparing for or is deployed on operations will be made redundant unless they volunteer. Only those who have returned from operations and have taken all their operational leave will be considered."
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "This Government has already announced cuts to the size of the Army of almost 20% in just 10 months. They have previously given 100% guarantees that nothing in the SDSR would impact on operations in Afghanistan. We need certainty that the Government will not renege on this promise."