Up to 50 brigadiers and other senior officers are expected to be axed as part of a sweeping round of army redundancies that will result in up to 5,300 troops leaving the forces over the next year.
In what is thought to be the biggest tranche of redundancies faced by the army since the early 1990s, infantry battalions are likely to be worst hit as the military reorganises itself for the post-Afghanistan era.
Special forces units will be spared any losses, but officials made clear that this round of job cuts would take “a large slice out of the army in one go”.
Separately, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) also admitted more medical staff from the army, Royal Navy and RAF staff were likely to face redundancy later this year.
Setting out the scale of the task facing the army, the MoD said it had identified 260 fields from which posts had to go, and it was down to commanders to spell out the options to personnel who would be interested in taking voluntary redundancy.
The army is bracing itself for having to make further compulsory redundancies – it has already had two tranches in which about a quarter of staff were forced out.
The redundancies form part of the cuts announced in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which will see the regular army reduced to 82,000 by 2020.
Announcing the details on Tuesday, the chief of the general staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said: “The army is unfortunately reducing to 82,000 by 2015 and this tranche of redundancy is essential to achieving that.
“I fully recognise the unwelcome uncertainty and pressure for those who will be liable in the employment fields announced today. For some it may present an opportunity; for others it will curtail their service prematurely. Our aim now is to apply the process as fairly as possible and to prepare to support those individuals who are selected as they and their families transition to civilian life.”
Redundancy notices will be issued on 18 June. Despite pressure to relax some of the rules over exemptions, any personnel preparing for, serving on, or recovering from operations on that date will not lose their jobs unless they have applied for redundancy.
However, the units that will deploy to Afghanistan this autumn will not be confirmed until April.
In a written statement, defence minister Mark Francois said: “The redundancy programme will not impact adversely on current operations in Afghanistan, and no one who is serving on specified operations on the day the redundancy notices are issued on June 18 2013 will be made redundant unless they are applicants. Similarly, those preparing for, or recovering from such operations on the day the redundancy notices are issued will not be made redundant unless they have applied.
“There is likely to be a need for a further tranche for army personnel and medical and dental personnel from the RN [Royal Navy] and RAF in due course.”
In first tranche in September 2011, 2,860 forces personnel were made redundant, while the second, in June 2012, involved 3,760.
The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, said: “The army is actively managing recruitment to reach the target numbers, but unfortunately redundancies are unavoidable due to the size of the defence deficit that this government inherited and the consequent scale of downsizing required in the army.
“We will have smaller armed forces but they will in future be properly equipped and well-funded, unlike before. These redundancies will not affect current operations in Afghanistan, where our armed forces continue to fight so bravely on this country’s behalf.”
MoD announces 5300 army job cuts – The Guardian
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