Thousands of armed forces personnel informed they must quit the services


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The Independent Online

More than a thousand armed forces personnel are being informed today that they must quit the services as part of efforts to control defence spending.

Around 30% of the 3,800 confirmed redundancies today are compulsory - with the bulk coming from the Army, which is facing the biggest overall cuts in manpower.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said fewer than anticipated were being axed from the Royal Navy and the RAF due to other measures such as slowed recruitment.

In total, 170 and 330 personnel from those two services are receiving notices - 29% of them on a compulsory basis, in what should be the final reductions.

But the expected removal of 2,900 soldiers goes ahead in full - 29% from among those who did not volunteer to leave - in the second tranche of forces redundancies.

The Ministry of Defence said there was still “some way to go to bring the size of the Army down to 82,000” and decisions on how to achieve those cuts “are yet to be taken”.

A spokesman said the ministry had done “everything we can to avoid non-applicant redundancies” and pointed out that the rate of compulsory exits had dropped since the last wave from 38%.

Volunteers will leave by December 11, with compulsory redundancies taking effect in a year's time, the Ministry of Defence indicated.

Mr Hammond said: “Of course I regret that it has been necessary to make redundancies to deliver our plans for reducing the size of the armed forces.

“We inherited a multibillion-pound black hole in the defence budget which had meant the previous government had not been able to afford to properly equip our troops with the kit they needed.

“We've now brought the defence budget back into balance for the first time in a generation.

“We will have smaller armed forces but we will ensure they will have the protection and equipment they need.

“The Royal Navy and RAF redundancy figures are smaller than anticipated due to the MoD's ability to use other measures, such as slowing recruitment.

“No further significant reductions are expected for the Royal Navy or RAF. We still have some way to go to bring the size of the Army down to 82,000 and decisions on what is necessary to achieve this are yet to be taken, but we won't compromise the mission in Afghanistan.”

Chief of the defence staff General Sir David Richards said: “I would like to take this opportunity to offer my sincere thanks to those who will be leaving the services for their contribution to our armed forces and to the nation's security.

“Some of you may see redundancy as an opportunity. Others will see it as a significant challenge.

“Your chain of command will support you during the redundancy process, and I would encourage you to make full use of the comprehensive resettlement package as you make the transition to civilian life.

“I would also encourage those who are eligible to consider applying for transfer to shortage categories within any of the three services.”