British armed forces below strength

BRITAIN'S armed forces are understaffed, with rising numbers of personnel quitting early, according to figures produced by the National Audit Office.It says the services are 5,170 below strength and since 2001 have operated at or above predicted deployment levels.

By Graham Dines

BRITAIN'S armed forces are understaffed, with rising numbers of personnel quitting early, according to figures produced by the National Audit Office.

It says the services are 5,170 below strength and since 2001 have operated at or above predicted deployment levels.

The Army is 100,000, 1.8%, below strength, the RAF is 45,210 (4.5%) undermanned, AND THE Royal Navy is 35,470 (3.8%) below strength.


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The NAO report says the strain of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time, is one reason for shortages.

It found for the past five years, the three services had “consistently operated at or above the most demanding combination of operations envisaged”" and there are major shortages in certain trades, such as engineers on our Trident nuclear deterrent submarines, and also medical services.

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Recruiting is also a problem due to controversies over Iraq and Deepcut barracks. Two thirds of British teenagers are now considered too fat to join the Army, says the NAO, with just 33% of 16-year-old boys meeting the Body Mass Index target of 28, since been raised to 32.

Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox called the report “damning report” and called for ministers to cough up more pay more for the increased operations faced by the armed forces.

“The gap between our commitments and our resources is growing and putting unacceptable pressures on our service personnel and their families,” he said

Defence Minister Derek Twigg admitted our armed forces faced a “particularly high level of operational commitment” but insisted Army recruitment was up 10% this year. He said the new operational allowance of £2,240 should aid recruiting and other improvements, such as accommodation, equipment and training were being considered.

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