Recruiting goes on as Army cuts 6,500 jobs: Recruiting continues while nearly 6,500 troops are being made redundant. Christopher Bellamy reports

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The Independent Online
NEARLY 6,500 soldiers received redundancy notices yesterday morning, 97 of them serving with UN forces in Bosnia and Croatia and 345 in Northern Ireland, as part of the Government's plans to bring the Army's strength down to 119,000 by 1994.

But 2,500 people are queuing up to join the Army, and 70 per cent of those taking redundancy can expect to be in full-time employment or higher education three months after leaving.

The vast majority, including all the non-commissioned ranks, were volunteers, but eight officers serving in the former Yugoslavia and 36 in Ulster have been made compulsorily redundant.

'We couldn't possibly exclude any one part of the Army from that. You can't exclude someone because he happened to be serving somewhere on 25 February,' General Sir David Ramsbotham, the Adjutant General - the Army's 'head of personnel' - said yesterday.

'It's not a day the Army's particularly happy about.'

Good resettlement terms have always been recognised as an attraction to recruits, and although the Army is getting smaller, it still has to recruit.

Lt-Col Geoff Bradbury has been sent to Bosnia to act as resettlement officer for the 97 soldiers and officers there. In Germany, the Department of Employment has set up a job centre. General Ramsbotham said the staff had been impressed by the attitude of the service applicants.

The redundancies are spread across the Army, not confined to regiments being reduced or amalgamated under the Government's plans.

The guidelines for selecting people for redundancy were set out in two Defence Council Instructions last year.

The aim was to reduce the 'soldier strength' and the 'officer corps in such a way as to ensure a proper structure and balance of experience and specialisation for the future'.

The number of officers and other ranks to be made redundant is set out for each arm or service - armour, artillery, infantry and so on, not for individual armoured or infantry regiments.

In each category, older men were targeted. In the infantry, the largest category were corporals with between nine and twenty years' service, with between 600 and 640 being made redundant world-wide. Among infantry officers, up to 120 are on the 'special list' - captains to lieutenant-colonels commissioned from the ranks. The corresponding number of regular officers is between 20 and 30.

A major aged 46 will get a special payment of pounds 47,364, a terminal grant of pounds 35,352 and an annual pension of pounds 11,784. A corporal aged 29 will get a pounds 27,942 special payment, with a terminal grant of pounds 7,105 and a pension of pounds 2,368, preserved until he is 60.

Two weeks ago, General Ramsbotham was in Croatia and Bosnia, 'to ensure that everything was in place'.

Those taking voluntary redundancy have eight months before leaving the Army, those compulsorily redundant 12.

Service personnel who wish to do so are normally allowed to spend the last six months of their service in Britain - so those currently engaged in emergency tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia will be allowed to remain in the Army for six months after their tours end.

Some of those who applied for redundancy did so, in part, because their regiments were being merged.

'Anyone who put in papers and now feels he wouldn't have done so has grounds for appeal,' General Ramsbotham said.

(Photograph omitted)