Although technological advances are radically improving the effectiveness of each individual soldier, the number of men on the ground remains vital to overall operational success.
The latest manning figures published today, however, show that the total strength of the British Army has reduced from 112,750 in April 2004 to 104,000 today. Four and a half years ago the Army had 8.5% (8,750) more personnel than it does today; it had 1% more (1,090) 6 months ago.
The number of recruits joining the Army has shown a reduction on the position 6 months ago whilst the number of those leaving has increased. Unfortunately these latest figures reverse the trends of the previous 12 months.
The latest figures also show that the Army is top heavy with too many chiefs and not enough indians: 1,000 too many officers and 4,400 too few other ranks.
Because over all three services the manning position is not so bad, the MoD is naturally putting a positive gloss on things. But the poor figures for the Army are a cause for concern, especially as the operational demands being placed on the Army show no sign of decreasing. It is also disappointing that the recent recruitment and retention drives seem to be having little impact.
Link> MoD: Latest Armed Forces manning figures released
Link> MoD DASA: TSP01 - UK Regular Forces Strengths and Changes
Link> The Telegraph: British Army has too many officers and not enough rank-and-file soldiers