Thursday, 26 August 2010

Latest figures show Army at full strength

The latest figures published by the Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) wing of the MoD show that the improvement in manning levels, which began in the late 2008, has been maintained and that the Army has actually been operating at full strength over the last quarter.

The MoD reports that the (markedly) reduced intake requirement reflects the fact that the Army is currently fully manned and can therefore cut back on new entrants.

The continued drop in the number of those leaving is also an encouraging sign as it implies that the Army is retaining more of its experienced personnel.

That the country is in the midst of the worst recession since the 1930s may also be influencing the situation.

The issue for the immediate future is of course whether the Army will be permitted to continue to operate at the 102,000 mark. Defence Secretary Liam Fox has already hinted that the Strategic Defence Review is going to hit military spending hard; he's quoted as saying that the Goverment will act "ruthlessly and without sentiment" in finding savings in the defence budget. Indeed it's already been rumoured that even Britain's elite 23 SAS Regiment is in line to be culled.

Liam Fox is hoping to play the magician: although he will be overseeing radical reductions (15% is the current consensus) in military expenditure, he also insists that eventually Britain's security would end up "stronger".

The UK is not alone in seeking significant cuts in defence expenditure: across Europe governments have started to slash their military procurement projects. One way that Dr Fox may seek to square the circle of delivering more with less is through closer co-operation within Europe. Integrated procurement programmes, shared hardware, split operational responsibilities - indeed European Military Union itself - may start to look like attractive options to a Coalition desparate to make ends meet. God help us.

MoD: Latest UK Armed Forces manning figures released