UK Says Number of Military Personnel Falls to ‘Record Low’

The British military is currently experiencing its lowest number of active-duty personnel, The Telegraph reported citing UK Ministry of Defence data.

As of October 1, the combined number of regular troops and volunteer reserves in all services fell to 184,865 – 7,440 lower than last year.

The figures are reportedly the lowest since the Napoleonic wars in 1815.

The British Army saw the biggest decline among all services, from 78,060 fully-trained soldiers in 2022 to only 75,983 this year.

According to the report, the current figures are the result of a 2021 government announcement about reducing the size of the army and focusing on modernization.

Other Potential Factors

According to former army major and member of parliament Richard Foord, more troops are leaving the armed forces due to issues such as substandard military housing.

His statement was backed by a recent survey that said 46 percent of soldiers felt dissatisfied with the overall standard of their accommodation, as opposed to only 34 percent who said they felt satisfied.

The current ban on beards could also factor in the lower number of recruits.

“How is it we are still struggling with recruitment and then arbitrarily saying you can’t join [if you grow a beard],” Defense Secretary Grant Shapps told The Telegraph. “It is ridiculous. It is time to modernize.”

Reduced Capability?

Earlier this year, former British defense chief Lord Dannatt said the UK could struggle to fulfill its commitment to NATO due to declining personnel numbers.

He also said that a lack of troops means the country would no longer be able to carry out simultaneous operations, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008.

During that time, the UK military deployed 20,000 soldiers to both countries and conducted rotations every six months.

“We could do that then with a regular army of over 100,000,” he told inews. “We couldn’t do that today.”

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