The Government announced in the strategic defence and security review last October that as part of moving to Future Force 2020 and due to the economic situation we have inherited, we would reduce the size of the Army by 7,000 personnel, and both the Navy and RAF by 5,000 personnel. We also made clear that regrettably an element of these reductions would need to be made through a redundancy process.
I set out in my statement of 1 March 2011 the process and timetable the armed forces redundancy scheme would follow. The RAF informed their personnel of the areas in which they would look to make reductions in tranche one on the same day. In accordance with the timetable set out in the 1 March statement the Army and Navy have today published to their personnel the equivalent information. In the first stage the Army are looking to reduce by around 1,000 personnel, and the Navy by 1,600. Like the RAF, individuals will not be selected for redundancy by the Army and Navy until 1 September 2011 and 30 September 2011 respectively.
While it is too early to know who will be selected for redundancy, the principles set out in the 1 March statement will be followed. First, both services will ask for volunteers although all personnel in the relevant areas will be considered. Secondly, the redundancy scheme will not impact adversely on the current operations in Afghanistan and Libya, where our armed forces are fighting so bravely on this country’s behalf. No-one who is preparing for combat operations, deployed on combat operations where they will receive the operational allowance or on post-operational tour leave on the day redundancy notices are issued will be made redundant unless they have volunteered.
The Government would rather not have had to reduce the size of the armed forces but the size of the fiscal deficit inherited left little choice. As we continue with the redundancy process we will ensure we retain the capability our armed forces require to be as effective in the future.