4,500 British soldiers to be axed

LONDON: Cash-strapped Britain on Tuesday axed nearly 4,500 Army personnel in the third and biggest round of job cuts since the 2010 defence review.

A total of 4,480 have been told to leave as the Cameron government tries to reduce the number of regulars by about 20% to 82,000.

Those who take voluntary redundancy will be leaving within six months, and compulsory redundancies will be completed in a year, the defence ministry announced.

The ministry said that the move was necessary to address the multi billion-pound deficit and bring the defence budget back into balance, but insisted that the operational capability would not be affected.

Announcing the latest tranche of redundancies, the defence secretary Philip Hamond said, “It is with great regret that we have had to make redundancies to deliver the reduction in the size of the armed forces, but unfortunately they were unavoidable due to the size of the defence deficit that this government inherited.”

“Although smaller, our armed forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future with the protection and equipment they need,” he added.

He has confirmed there will be no further reductions in manpower in the next round of spending cuts.

“The end of combat operations in Afghanistan and the restructuring of our armed forces means they will be more reflective of the complex global situation and more adaptable to future challenges and threats,” said chancellor George Osborne, speaking from the G8 summit in Northern Ireland earlier.

He told Sky News, “We’ve got to have an Army we can afford And when it comes to the military what we’ve said is we want to make sure that Britain can still project itself abroad, defend itself at home, and that our soldiers have all the latest equipment they need to do that.”

“As part of these changes, yes there have been difficult decisions about getting the size of the Army right, but we’re also purchasing for them the latest equipment.