More than 1,500 servicemen and women are to lose their jobs in the final round of armed forces redundancies, defence secretary Philip Hammond has announced today.
Up to 1,425 members of the army and up to 10 medical officers from the Royal Navy are to go, Mr Hammond told MPs in a Commons statement yesterday.
He confirmed that among the units affected would be the Brigade of Gurkhas which still had more troops than it needed, despite previous cuts.
However, The News understands the rest of the cuts are not being aimed at any particular units.
Mr Hammond said: ‘Tough decisions had to be made to balance the defence budget and this included restructuring the armed forces to create a more sustainable military.
‘This fourth and final tranche of the Armed Forces Redundancy Programme will draw a line under the uncertainty of the last four years, bringing a renewed sense of security about the future to our servicemen and women.
‘Everyone selected for redundancy will get all the support they need to make a smooth transition to civilian life, including a new option to get an advance on redundancy packages, giving everyone a greater opportunity to buy their own home at a time that suits them.
‘Our armed forces in the future will be properly equipped, sustainable and better placed to meet the challenges of the future.’
The fourth tranche of redundancies is part of an armed forces re-structuring programme which will see the regular army cut 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 total number of redundancies was announced previously, but the job cuts were structured into four lots.
Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said:
‘In order to deliver the army’s new structure this final tranche of redundancies is essential.
‘I fully recognise the uncertainty and concern for those in the employment fields announced today.
‘Our priority will be to look after those leaving the army and to support their transition to civilian life.’
Former army colonel warns over ‘fickle’ public opinion
Public mood could quickly shift and demand British forces be deployed abroad again, a former army colonel has warned amid the final round of forces redundancies.
Bob Stewart, who served in Bosnia, sought assurances from defence secretary Philip Hammond the army would still be able to meet all of its obligations in its newly slimmed down form.
Mr Stewart said: ‘It’s quite clear in the public there are some suggesting there would not be much support for expeditionary warfare again.
‘In my experience, the public can be very fickle – particularly when events happens and horrors as well.
‘We now have with this tranche the smallest armed forces we have had for a very long time.
‘Can you say our armed forces will now be up to any challenge they are asked to do with their smaller numbers and that our people should rest assured they would do that extremely well when called upon to do it?’
Mr Hammond replied: ‘The public can rest assured our armed forces will do their duty, will protect this country, wherever, whenever and however called upon to do so.’