MoD axe makes 4,480 UK soldiers redundant to 'help balance the books'winging
More than 4,000 soldiers have been told they have lost their jobs in the latest round of Army redundancies, the Ministry of Defence has announced.
Today's losses are the third instalment of job cuts arising from the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and confined to the Army.
Last week, David Cameron was forced to respond to fears raised by military top brass over defence cuts, after General Sir Peter Wall said any gap between military resources and planned capabilities caused by spending cuts "could become quite dangerous, quite quickly".
But Mr Cameron insisted that Britain's forces are among the best-funded in the world , saying that "difficult decisions" were being taken under the coalition's austerity programme and no department is immune from making savings.
The latest round of cuts come after the Army launched a recruitment drive last month to help find 10,000 personnel, with a television campaign and Army jobs advertised in job centres.
Ahead of today's announcement, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the redundancy notices issued today "represent not just broken promises but a failing strategy" to reform the British Army.
He said: "The Government has a flawed plan for reforming the British Army. There is a huge effort going into sacking soldiers but nowhere near as much is being done to plug the gap by recruiting new reservists.
"These redundancies represent not just broken promises but a failing strategy, and the level of voluntary applicants will be a signal of morale."
Seizing on Sir Peter's comments, Mr Murphy said: "Senior Army figures are right to warn that ministers' decisions could lead to a mismatch between capability and ambition.
"Labour knows that difficult decisions need to be made, and accepts this means smaller services than in 2010. Far from having balanced the defence budget, however, ministers' failed economic plan means long-term decisions in defence will be required.
"Despite their claims, ministers have failed to put defence on a stable footing."
Answering questions in the Commons yesterday, Mr Hammond said savings demanded of his department in this month's spending review would not require further cuts to the size of the armed forces.
Mr Hammond said the MoD would meet its share of the £11.5 billion in cuts across Government demanded by Chancellor George Osborne through efficiency savings.
The Defence Secretary told the Commons the MoD was "not looking at changes that will reduce military manpower".
A total of 4,480 Army personnel have been made redundant in the latest tranche of job losses as the Government tries to reduce the number of regulars to 82,000 by 2018.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said the move is necessary to help balance the books but insisted operational capability would not be affected.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed there will be no further reductions in manpower in the next round of spending cuts.
Announcing the latest tranche of redundancies - originally thought to involve 5,300 soldiers - he said: "Today we have announced the third tranche of redundancies as we restructure the British Army to the size and configuration set out under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
"It is with great regret that we have had to make redundancies to deliver the reduction in the size of the armed forces, but unfortunately they were unavoidable due to the size of the defence deficit that this Government inherited.
"Although smaller, our armed forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future with the protection and equipment they need.
"They will continue to be the bedrock of our society and provide extremely rewarding and exciting careers for future recruits."
The MoD said personnel selected for redundancy would be told face to face by their commanding officer.
It said it had done everything to avoid "non-applicant" redundancies, and 84% of those losing their jobs in the latest tranche had applied for redundancy.
Those who applied for voluntary redundancy will leave on or before December 17 this year, and those who did not will leave on or before June 17 2014.
Soldiers who did not apply and are currently serving, preparing for or recovering from operations where they receive an operational allowance, such as Afghanistan, are exempt, as are those recovering from serious injuries sustained on operations.
The MoD said the Army will need to make further reductions to reach its final target of 82,000, likely to involve a further tranche for Army personnel, and a small number of medical and dental personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall said: "This redundancy scheme is a difficult but essential step towards our A2020 structure. We owe our sincere gratitude to those leaving the Army for their service over such a demanding period of operations.
"We will support them and their families as best we can on their path to civilian life. Meanwhile we continue to need plenty of young and talented recruits to ensure the Army is fit to meet the challenges of the future."
Belfast Telegraph Digital