Thousands face Army job losses in summer

 
soldier The Army is planning to reduce its regular fighting force to 82,000 by 2017

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Thousands of military personnel face a five-month wait to find out whether they will lose their jobs as part of a restructure of the armed forces.

The Ministry of Defence has outlined a third round of 5,300 Army redundancies to be set out in June, as it tries to reduce the number of regulars from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2017.

The MoD said the cuts are necessary "to meet the challenges of the future".

But campaigners said they created a "worrying" situation for Army families.

Redundancy notices to those affected by this latest round will be issued on 18 June.

No personnel preparing for, serving on, or recovering from deployments on that date will lose their jobs unless they have applied for redundancy, the MoD said, but they could be affected next year.

This round of redundancies will be the largest set of cuts faced by the Army so far as the MoD bids to plug a £38bn hole in the defence budget.

'Live within means'

Catherine Spencer, of the Army Families Federation, said redundancy for soldiers often meant "a complicated and worrying process" for their families.

Analysis

This round of Army redundancies, along with the next, will hit around one in 10 soldiers. And while those soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan will be protected from the axe this time, they could be included in the next round of cuts.

But it's not just the impact on morale for those serving that's causing concern. It's the timing of the latest redundancies - just days after David Cameron's warning of a long struggle against Islamic extremism. How will cuts in the armed forces affect Britain's ability to deal with a threat within countries hardly noticed in the government's 2010 Strategic Defence Review?

The prime minister has made clear that he will not be sending British combat troops to fight in Mali. He hopes that logistical support for the French from the RAF, intelligence and training will suffice. In his view it's not about the Army's size, but its capabilities.

But what happens when those niche capabilities are not enough? It's at that point that politicians tend to think about force, and the size of the Army would suddenly matter.

"The family are more likely to accompany a soldier, they are quite likely to be living in service family accommodation, so they're going to be asking themselves where they're going to be living, what their soldier is going to do for a job, where their children are going to go to school and, quite often, whether their spouse will lose their job because they'll have to relocate to another area."

Defence minister Mark Francois insisted the MoD would ensure it retained the capabilities the Armed Forces required.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said he could not guarantee all of the redundancies would be made from those who had applied.

But he said some 60% of redundancies in the first tranche had come from applicants and more than 70% in the second.

Mr Francois added the Army "must live within its means".

Labour questioned defence cuts in the wake of the recent hostage crisis in Algeria and concerns that the UK faces a growing battle with Islamist extremism in North Africa.

The government insists the only support likely to be offered in that region will be logistical, rather than troops.

About 17,000 armed forces jobs are scheduled to go under the terms of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), announced in 2010.

Graphic showing the restructure of the Army under Army 2020

The navy and air force have to cut 5,000 jobs each, the Army 7,000 and about 25,000 civilian staff working at the MoD face redundancy.

In 2011, a further reduction of 12,000 was identified for the regular Army, as the government seeks to put greater emphasis on military reserves.

Former soldier Tom Bannister says soldiers' wages are small compared with "procurement wastage"

Last year, the government announced reservist numbers were to be doubled to 30,000 by 2018, to help fill the gap.

The MoD said: "It is important the armed forces continue to recruit to ensure we have enough quality junior ranks and young officers to promote up through the organisation in future.

"The armed forces redundancy programme has been designed to safeguard those skill sets needed in the future armed forces, while ensuring that rank structure remains balanced and support to combat operations is not compromised."

'Dreadful day'

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said it was "a dreadful day" for many members of the Army and their families.

He said: "To announce a new plan for North Africa on Monday and announce 5,000 redundancies in the Army on Tuesday just seems to make no sense whatsoever."

Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said it was ''dreadful'' for army members

Maj Gen Patrick Cordingley told BBC Radio 5 live the UK's participation in a major land war in the future would be much smaller than in previous conflicts as a result of the changes.

Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman said the latest round of redundancies were "part of a reconfiguration" set out in the 2010 SDSR and the Army 2020 vision to make the Army "more flexible, adaptable and agile".

He added the UK was "going to continue to have a highly capable, highly operational - even more capable and more operational - Army and armed forces who will, the prime minister has no doubt, continue to do an absolutely excellent job."

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 199.

    How can ministry of defence enlist new recruits to take the same job description when they are making those redundant doing exactly the same job. The commitment these men & women give & the sacrifices they make to keep us all safe this is not what they deserve. What people don't realise is that this is not only a job it is their life. Stop these cuts they are ruining lives !

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 197.

    An army is expensive if it's not at home. Foreign deployments, especially conflicts, are where the major running costs are.

    If they were here, as a deterrent force, rather than there as a hostile force, we could likely have a bigger, better army, for less money.

    Military, like charity, should begin at home...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 187.

    Our army is too big!

    We need to slash it in size and bring it home.
    We aren't the world's policeman. We tried to be, which has increased terrorism and the size of our defence forces.

    Slash the size of foreign deployments, reduce the budget and taxes on us accordingly, watch the economy benefit as a result.
    See USA after WWII!

  • rate this
    +13

    Comment number 108.

    What the bean counters are not telling people, is the time commitment needed by reservists now.
    Despite what the AD's say, you are looking at every weekend training plus courses.
    Try maintaining a civilian career and family life around that. The commitment level cannot be maintained by reservists continually. That's why trained TA and now leaving, big flaw in the grand plan Dave.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 78.

    The old pattern of National Service just won't work anymore. Combat has become so high tech that to train even a squaddie takes a lot of time and money. Technical specialists like REME and their RN and RAF equivalents takes and costs even more. Money wasted unless they stay in for a lot longer than the 2 years of old.

 

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