Armed forces to lose 11,000 personnel

British troops on the front line in Afghanistan could be among the 11,000 redundancies in the armed forces demanded by the Government. Ministers came under fire for announcing the job losses hours after David Cameron told the Commons the RAF could help enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

The cuts will include around 5,000 personnel from the Army, 3,300 from the Navy and 2,700 from the RAF. Two Tornado squadrons, 14 and XIII, will be disbanded, with the personnel redistributed and considered for redundancy on the same terms as others.

Personnel currently serving in Afghanistan would be eligible for redundancy as almost all will have completed their tour by September, when the first tranche of those losing their positions will be told.

Mr Cameron said the redundancies would be "difficult" for those affected but he insisted they were necessary to "modernise and update" Britain's forces.

Downing Street was in retreat over his calls for a no-fly zone over Libya amid opposition from other military powers, including Russia. His spokesman said the proposal was "purely a contingency measure". He said: "It's not a step you would take in any event unless things change on the ground."