COMMENT: Our armed forces need to reverse fall in numbers

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It’s worrying to learn that Ministry of Defence figures show they are nearly eight per cent under their required workforce numbers.

And it didn’t take long for shadow defence secretary – Labour’s Nia Griffith – to get on her soapbox to accuse ministers of ‘running down’ the UK military saying the government is either in ‘complete denial’ about the recruitment and retention ‘crisis’ or they are ‘actively in favour of cutting’ the armed forces.

She added: ‘It is clear that the Conservatives just cannot be trusted with our country’s defences.’

In all honestly whether Labour have jumped on the bandwagon or not, it is worrying no matter what political persuasion one leans towards that our military is 7.6 per cent below what it should be in terms of personnel.

The data from the MoD revealed the full-time trade trained strength of the army was 74,440 compared to the workforce requirement of 82,000.

Elsewhere in other branches of the armed forces, the RAF total stood at 29,930 of the required 31,840, and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines decreased to 29,090 of the required 30,600.

There have admittedly been increases in the reserve force.

But there have been concerns over the use of private firm Capita in recruitment and wider efforts to retain personnel while the military has been battling to rectify its recruitment issues which has hit all three branches of the armed forces.

Just last month the Royal Navy admitted a lack of chefs had left Britain’s biggest warship, the Portsmouth-based HMS Queen Elizabeth, without the use of all of its kitchens.

And all of this couldn’t have come at a worse time in a world that is ever-changing. Surely amid escalating tensions with Iran and Russia, now of all times is when our military should be at full strength and be ready and trained to react to whatever is thrown at them.