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Ex-forces chief in cuts warning

The Royal Navy does not have enough ships to carry out its "everyday duties", and cuts in the ranks of the Army should be put on hold until more reservists can be recruited, a former head of Britain's armed forces has said.

Field Marshal Lord Bramall told the Sunday Telegraph that the armed forces were having to "make the best of" reductions that were driven by financial considerations.

His warning came as Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he was "very confident" the Army can reach its target of 30,000 reservists by 2018, despite concerns the recruitment drive has started slowly.

Under Government plans the regular Army is being cut from 102,000 to 82,000, while the newly-renamed Army Reserve - formerly the Territorial Army - is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

But a leaked Ministry of Defence memo last month warned that "disappointing" numbers of part-time soldiers were being recruited, with fears that targets will not be reached.

Lord Bramall, who led the Army as Chief of General Staff during the Falklands War and was later promoted to the top military post of Chief of Defence Staff, said there was "a terrible question mark" over whether the required numbers of reservists can be found.

"If you are not going to get the reserves then you should not run down frontline troops as quickly as you intended to do," he told the Sunday Telegraph. "The logical thing is you do not run them down until you achieve the build-up of reserves but finance is still driving the agenda."

Lord Bramall also warned: "T he Royal Navy does not have enough surface ships to carry out the everyday duties of projecting influence, tackling piracy and all the other things they have to do all over the world.

"The defence cuts have been predominantly driven by finance, and the military has had to make the best of it."


From Belfast Telegraph