No more cuts, warns Army's supremo
The head of the Army has said he believes most of the cutbacks to its numbers are "now behind us", but warned against further restructuring after the next general election.
General Sir Peter Wall said the Army struggled to recruit during the coalition's swingeing defence cuts, but he is confident its new model "will endure".
His comments came after a former head of the Royal Navy said government cuts to the fleet had gone too far and were a "national disgrace".
Lord West of Spithead, a former first sea lord, said the coalition had not just cut to the bone but "into the bone", and insisted the UK had been left with too few ships to escort naval convoys.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that in today's "very dangerous and chaotic world" the depth of cutbacks needed to be reconsidered.
The Labour peer also claimed the possibility of Scottish independence posed the greatest security and defence threat to the UK.
The Government is cutting the regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while the newly-renamed Army Reserve - formerly the Territorial Army - is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.
The cuts have had a major impact on the Navy, which has been left without an operational aircraft carrier until 2020 and a fleet of just 19 frigates and destroyers.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Sir Peter, Chief of the General Staff, praised today's "warrior generation" that has fought in Afghanistan, saying it was linked to those men who fought in the D-Day landings 70 years ago by the quality of its soldiers and a shared "professional ethos".
But he said that the Army still "needs well-trained, well-equipped units with committed soldiers ready to deploy at short notice, who can adapt quickly and intelligently to unforeseen situations".
"Such forces afford the Government genuine choices in a crisis," he said.
Sir Peter said that recruiting talented soldiers was a challenge, especially while the Army was reducing in size.
He said: "Our recruiting message gets diluted by the sense of change and we also face increased competition for the brightest and best in a recovering employment market.
"Most of the structural change for our new model, Army 2020, is behind us and I am confident the model will endure.
"As our Secretary of State has said, this smaller Army will be properly equipped and trained to be effective in supporting the nation's interests."