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MoD cuts 1,060 armed forces jobs in Defence Review

Approximately 1,060 armed forces personnel are to be made redundant in the fourth and final round of Ministry of Defence (MoD) cuts. 

As a result, 995 service personnel will leave the Army, 55 will go from the RAF and 10 will go from the Royal Navy. 

However, this announcement comes just after the National Audit Office (NAO) claimed that the MoD’s plans to implement its Army 2020, a programme to reduce the size of the regular Army and increase the number of trained Army reserves, was taken “without appropriate testing of feasibility”. 

Defence secretary Philip Hammond said that the cuts – part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review – were “unavoidable”. 

He added: “It is with great regret that we have had to make redundancies to reduce the size of the armed forces, but unfortunately they were unavoidable. 

“But today marks the end to a period of uncertainty and doubt for our personnel. The announcement of the final tranche of the redundancy scheme, we introduced to rebalance our armed forces and address the black hole in the defence budget in 2010, allows greater certainty for armed forces personnel going forward.” 

The NAO, though, has warned that transition to the new Army structure comes with significant risks which, if they materialised, could significantly affect the Army’s ability to achieve its objectives and value for money. 

For example, Under Army 2020, by December 2018 the number of trained regular soldiers in the Army needs to be reduced by around 20,000 (down from 102,000); and, by the end of 2018-19, the number of trained reserve soldiers needs to be increased by at least 11,000 (up from around 19,000). However, the Department did not test whether it was feasible to recruit and train the required number of reserves by 2018-19. 

“Army 2020 requires an overall reduction in the size of the Army and a fundamental change to its composition, with a significant reduction in the number of regulars and a substantial increase in the number of trained reserves,” said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO. “Military judgement played an important role in decisions but committing to moving towards an Army structure with fewer regular soldiers and an increased number of reserves within the planned timescale should have been subject to more rigorous testing of feasibility.” 

The NAO’s latest report highlights that the Army 2020 programme also seeks, for the first time, to integrate regulars and reserves fully within a single force structure. But 65% of regular Army respondents to a 2014 MOD survey believe that regular and reserve forces are not well integrated. 

General Sir Nicholas Houghton, chief of the defence staff, stated that redundancies have not been taken lightly, and there will be support for those making the transition into civilian life or into the reserve forces. 

The MoD did try and put a positive slant on the redundancies saying that “each year around 24,000 personnel leave the armed forces, and around 80% of those who look for work are in full-time employment within six months of leaving”. 

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