Next generation of officers looks forward to change: Christopher Bellamy meets officer cadets training at Sandhurst, and a soldier facing redundancy: The New Guard

ALTHOUGH the Army is shrinking, it still needs constant infusions of new blood. Its young officers will shape the new Army and lead its front-line troops, sometimes under fire, in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.

At its 'steady state' strength of 119,000 from 1994, the Army will need 15,700 new soldiers and 750 officers a year. While it is being cut from its current 145,000, it still needs 8,300 new soldiers and 650 officers a year. 'We are a living organisation and we've got to recruit to maintain the lifeblood,' Sir David Ramsbotham, the Adjutant General, said.

Over Christmas the Army believed it would be short of applicants for the May entry to Sandhurst, where all its officers are now trained. Out of 270 places, perhaps 150 were unfilled. An advertising campaign was successful and in January applications were the highest for 18 months.

Brigadier Jack Deverell, the Army's director of recruiting, said he hoped the upturn would be maintained. He was reluctant to ascribe increased interest to British troops being constantly in view on television and in the headlines, but the apparent increase in military activity around the world, from Bosnia to Somalia, probably has something to do with it. There was little concern among Sandhurst cadets that the end of the Cold War had made the military less relevant or interesting - the opposite. 'I could have joined the Army in 1986,' Piers Zvegintsov, whose family came to Britain in 1917, said.

'But you were faced with a Nato monolith. You could have spent 12 years in Germany. With the breakdown of the Cold War I saw soldiering getting much more like the 19th century - 'colonial policing' - which is what the UN have been accused of doing.'

Richard Donellan, who had already served in the Royal Engineers, said: 'It worries me that maybe the Army will be overstretched with new conflicts.'

It was in response to that concern that the Government backtracked on its plans, announcing that the Army would retain 40 infantry battalions and not 38, enough to enable them to meet their current commitments once the current reforms are complete. Cadets Zvegintsov and Donellan are among those who had begun the second of the new-style courses five weeks ago. Several cadets thought the amalgamation of Army regiments currently under way was a factor, though because of the immediate confusion it created rather than because it offended local loyalties. 'I think it does bother people a lot,' Rebecca Taylor, who had been sponsored through university as a member of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, which will be merged into the new Royal Logistic Corps in April, said.

Jeremy Biggs, who expects to join the Duke of Edinburgh's Royal Regiment, which will amalgamate with the Gloucestershire Regiment next year, said: 'I've been down to the regiment a couple of times. It's undermanned. I think it'll work very well.'

Many cadets were looking forward to being the first new officers in new regiments. 'One of the responsibilities will be to create the new esprit,'Neil Blenkinsop, a student on the first of the new courses, which started in September, said. He will join the new Royal Logistic Corps. The newest cadets were also relaxed about the reduction in Army size.

'I think it's a good idea,' one said. 'In the Armed Forces people can be very complacent. It keeps you sharp.'

Many believed that once the Army was reduced to 119,000, that would be the last cut for a long time and the smaller the Army, the more chance of interesting postings.

Sandhurst has changed radically in recent months. An extra third term acquaints cadets with new and increasingly complex subjects: military technology, information systems and combined arms training - how the different parts of the orchestra work together.

'Stuff is always being thrown at us to include,' Major Rory Stevenson, the chief instructor, said. 'We've taken advantage of this complete redesign to build new things in.'

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Infrastructure / Network Engineer (VMware, Windows, LAN/WAN)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Primary teaching jobs in Thetford

£1036224 - £1513056 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Educatio...

Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week