MoD sets out cuts to high-ranking posts, leak suggests

British Army soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles on patrol in Afghanistan About 42,000 MoD civilian and armed forces jobs are to be cut by 2015 as defence spending falls

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More than 1,000 senior posts are to be cut by the Ministry of Defence by 2020, a leaked report suggests.

Some 724 senior ranking officers and civil servants will go by 2015, with 335 more by 2020, according to a report, apparently penned by an MoD director and published in the Guardian.

"The perception that defence is bureaucratic and top-heavy must be addressed," the report states.

The MoD would not confirm the figures but has pledged to cut senior posts.

The leak comes as the MoD looks to cut thousands of military and civilian personnel.

The confidential Defence Reform - Liability Review paper was penned by Jonathan Slater, the director general of transformation and strategy at the MoD, the newspaper reports.

'Detrimental impact'

"The simple truth is that the defence senior cadre is larger than we can afford," the report says.

Analysis

Recent defence cuts have already produced alarming headlines - including claims the British army has "more generals than tanks" and the Royal Navy "more admirals than ships".

The MoD has dismissed these stories as inaccurate. It says, for example, there are in fact 59 serving generals in the Army and 337 tanks.

Others question the relevance of using such statistics. However, given the scale of redundancies in the Army, RAF and Royal Navy, it's inevitable there now needs to be some serious pruning of the higher ranks.

It makes good financial sense too, with those at the rank of brigadier and above on salaries of more than £100,000 a year. You can also argue it's necessary for morale.

As the leaked document states, a top-heavy, bureaucratic MoD "undermines the confidence of our own staff, Parliament, the public and the media". The question for the MoD, as it pushes through these cuts, is how to retain experience and talent.

There are currently 3,620 middle-ranking civil servants and military officers in the Royal Navy, Army, RAF and civil service.

That number should drop to 3,011 by 2015, the report states, and to 2,724 by 2020. This would mean axing 68 Royal Navy posts by 2020, 104 in the Army and 86 in the RAF.

The next level up are the one and two-star officers, and their civil service equivalents. The report states their numbers need to be cut from 550 to 461 by 2015, and to 423 by 2020.

For those holding two stars - including rear admirals, major generals and air vice-marshals - the totals need to be cut from 152 to 126, and then to 116.

Any reasons for the cuts not to be made would need to be explained, it adds, and the MoD has until April next year to finalise the losses.

In July, the government set out plans for cuts in the number of senior officers. It followed the Levene report into the structure and management of the MoD.

An MoD spokeswoman said its redundancy programme aimed to ensure it could best meet current and emerging threats.

"Following the Levene proposals, the defence reform unit is conducting a review of senior officer posts to ensure the services are not top heavy," she said.

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