Case for the defence grows weaker as Armed Forces are hit by new wave of cuts
Downsizing gathers pace as 4,000 members have contracts terminated
The latest tranche of redundancies in the armed forces was announced yesterday, part of the largest cutbacks for more than two decades, with personnel who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan among those affected.
Around 4,000 members from all three services received their notices of termination, as it was announced that Ursula Brennan, the Permanent Under Secretary at the Ministry of Defence, was leaving to take up the same post at the Ministry of Justice, a smaller government department.
In her farewell message, Ms Brennan talked about her tenure at the MoD at a time of "remarkable change" which is "never straightforward and often painful". She acknowledged that "everyone knows resources will continue to be under real pressure".
About a third of those notified yesterday will be facing compulsory redundancies in a second wave of job losses, which follows 2,860 job cuts announced in August and September 2011.
In this round, 2,900 posts will go from the Army, 900 from the RAF and 300 from the Royal Navy.
Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said that fewer staff than anticipated were being axed from the Royal Navy and the RAF because of other measures, such as the winding down of recruitment.
Overall, the aim is to reduce the size of the armed forces from 180,000 to 150,000 over the next five years. The army will be reduced in numbers to 82,000 which, critics say, will mean it can no longer be classed as an army but a self-defence force, the widely accepted description for a force of under 100,000.
The MoD rejects the charge. Mr Hammond said yesterday: "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 multi-billion-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 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."
General Sir David Richards, viewed among the ranks as someone who had fought hard for their corner, urged some of those made redundant to consider applying for jobs which are in short supply across the three services.
He said: "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."
Jim Murphy, the Labour defence spokesman, said: "We are concerned about the human and military impact of these job losses.
"Capability is being lost, as are people's livelihoods. The Government has focused on structures not purpose.
"Savings have to be made but ministers must do much more to explain our future ability to project force around the world as well as how they intend to support the thousands being sacked."
Revealed: Stunning new images show gold-plated, ultra-luxurious Riyadh metro station that Saudi king has ordered to be built
World news in pictures
Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
Oklahoma tornado latest: Obama pledges support for 'as long as it takes' to rebuild the suburb of Moore
Video emerges of Pope Francis reportedly performing an exorcism
- 1 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 2 Swedes set up 'ultimate Viking movie'
- 3 After woman sells virginity for $780,000, here are the results of our prostitution survey
- 4 China agrees to impose carbon targets by 2016
- 5 Far-right French historian, 78-year-old Dominique Venner, commits suicide in Notre Dame in protest against gay marriage
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Salary Package - £60K to £120K: Austen Lloyd: We have an exciting op...
£200 - £250 per day: Progressive Recruitment: Java Developer - Urgent Requirem...
£70000 - £95000 per annum + Bonus, flexible working hours, remote work: Progre...
£50000 - £56000 per annum + Benefits package, flexible working hours: Progress...