Cutting U.K. Army Size May Harm Operations, Auditors Say

The U.K. government’s plans to cut the size of the regular Army and recruit more reserves may “significantly affect” the force’s ability to achieve its objectives, the official spending watchdog warned.

“Military judgment played an important role in decisions but committing to moving towards an Army structure with fewer regular soldiers and an increased number of reserves within the planned timescale should have been subject to more rigorous testing of feasibility,” Amyas Morse, the head of the National Audit Office, said in an e-mailed report today.

The government’s plan foresees a cut in the size of the Army to 82,500 personnel from 102,000 by December 2018. The number of reserve soldiers will have to rise by at least 11,000 to 30,000. Overall savings would be 10.6 billion pounds ($18 billion).

Recruitment of reserves is behind schedule, the NAO said. “If the reserve recruitment shortfall persists, there is a risk of staffing gaps in some parts of the Army structure and increased pressure on regular units.”

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