Armed forces recruits down 40% last year

image captionBritain's mission in Iraq is over but the forces are committed elsewhere

Britain's armed forces saw the number of recruits fall by 40% last year.

The Army, Royal Navy and RAF signed up 12,800 people in 2010/11, down from 21,800 the year before, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The MoD said the fall was because recruitment had been high in previous years and few people left the military.

But UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage claimed government cuts and Britain's involvement in Libya had put people off joining the armed forces.

He said: "I am not surprised we've seen such a drop in the number of young men and women signing up to the regular forces.

"There's been a massive disincentive to join, with cuts to the defence budget and an unnecessary conflict in Libya to name just two."

There were 176,430 full-time trained members of the armed forces at the beginning of May, 1.4% down on the target of 178,880.

The MoD has said the total will be cut by 17,000 by April 2015 in an attempt to save nearly £5bn, with 11,000 coming through redundancies and natural wastage.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "The armed forces constantly keeps manpower under review to ensure we have the right number of people with the right skills to do the job.

"We are at the highest level of manning for many years and service personnel are leaving the armed forces at a slower rate.

"We have not stopped recruitment and we are always looking for enthusiastic, determined and committed young people to fulfil challenging roles."

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