The reduction in strength of the British Army is almost three years ahead of schedule according to Ministry of Defence personnel figures released this week as the culture of returning to civilian employment grows within the ranks. In July 2010 the British Army stood at 102,260 active military personnel but the subsequent defence review following the coming to power of the coalition government saw the Army having to cut the number of active personnel down to around the 82,000 mark by 2018 as part of a major restructuring program known as “Army 2020”.
However that figure has already been reached ahead of the next review due later this year thanks largely to the Army’s efforts to encourage voluntary redundancies. Nearly every issue of the Army’s Soldier magazine in recent years has offered advice and help to those who would chose to leave and now it seems the effort has been too effective with current numbers for active duty personnel being 81,700. The drop off in the number of active service personnel was meant to be made up by an increase in part time reserve forces however the number of applicants for reserve units has not been as high as hoped. By April of this year the trained strength of the volunteer Army Reserve had reached 21,030, an increase of 1,000 on the same time last year but still well short of the 30,000 target set for 2018 when the Army was supposed to be at its current strength.
This has lead many analysts and observers to question whether the British Army has the manpower to meet all of its requirements in the coming years while the number of reserve forces are built up. The MoD issued a statement to address the concerns saying;
This government is committed to an army of 82,000 and the funding is in place to deliver it. We have the manpower we need at the moment and, working with the army, we are taking clear action to keep driving recruitment upwards.