Former defence chief has concern over fleet

The fragment from the Union Jack believed to have flown on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Credit: Sotheby's

Flag from HMS Victory and Lord Nelson’s love letters up for sale at London auction

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THE Royal Navy does not have enough ships to carry out its duties, a former head of Britain’s armed forces has said.

Field Marshal Lord Bramall told a national newspaper the armed forces were having to make the best of reductions driven by financial cuts.

He also called on cuts in the ranks of the Army to be put on hold until more reservists are recruited.

It came as defence secretary Philip Hammond said he was confident the Army can reach its target of 30,000 reservists by 2018, despite concerns the recruitment drive has started slowly. The regular Army is being cut from 102,000 to 82,000.

Meanwhile, the Territorial Army, renamed to be the Army Reserve, is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

The Royal Naval Reserves has also been set a target.

But a leaked Ministry of Defence memo last month warned ‘disappointing’ numbers of part-time soldiers were being recruited.

Lord Bramall, who led the Army as Chief of General Staff during the Falklands War and was later promoted to Chief of Defence Staff, said there was a ‘terrible question mark’ over whether the required numbers of reservists can be found.