MoD unveils third round of Army job cuts

The Ministry of Defence has announced a third round of Army redundancies.

Up to 5,300 job losses were outlined by the government. These are part of cuts already announced to reduce Army numbers from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2017,

Defence minister Mark Francois said the MoD would ensure it retained the capabilities the Armed Forces required "in order to meet the challenges of the future".

The overall aim is to help plug a £38bn hole in the defence budget.

Redundancy notices will be issued on 18 June. Any personnel preparing for, serving on, or recovering from operations on that date will not lose their jobs unless they have applied for redundancy.

The MoD said a further tranche of job losses among Royal Navy and RAF medical and dental personnel, as well as additional Army redundancies, was also "likely".

An urgent question on the move is expected in the House of Commons later.

About 17,000 armed forces jobs are scheduled to go under the terms of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), announced in 2010.

The navy and air force have to cut 5,000 jobs each, the Army 7,000 and about 25,000 civilian staff working at the MoD face redundancy.

In 2011 a further reduction of 12,000 was identified for the regular Army, as the government sought to put greater emphasis on military reserves.

Last year the government announced that reservist numbers were to be doubled to 30,000 by 2018, taking on an "integral" role, to help fill the gap.

But, commenting on the latest round of Army redundancies, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the extra emphasis on the contribution of reservists combined with the speed of the reduction in the Army's size could cause problems.

In the first wave of losses in August and September 2011 more than 2,800 personnel from across the armed forces were told they had been selected for redundancy.The second round of redundancies resulted in losses of more than 4,000 military personnel in June last year.

In each case, almost two-thirds of those selected had volunteered to leave the armed forces.

Both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are not expected to be included in this latest round of redundancies, with natural wastage and a recruitment freeze in some areas making up the rest of the cutbacks they need to make.

The shadow defence secretary said: "There are real worries about the military impact of a loss of skills and capability at a time of increased threats and new global challenges.

"Military planning advice must take precedence over ministers' political presentation concerns."

Mr Murphy told BBC Radio 5 live there was "a logic" to reducing the size of the Army.

'Brutal' process
However, he expressed concern at the manner of the cuts, with its particular emphasis on reservists, which he said could cause problems if there were problems freeing them up to take on more responsibilities.

He said: "If we're going to ask more of men and women in other jobs to be involved in the reservists, which can be a fantastic opportunity, we have to rely upon the goodwill and support of employers.

"If a reservist goes for an interview and they're equally qualified with someone else who also goes for the interview, we have to work with employers to make sure they don't have at the back of their mind: 'My gosh, this employee, as a reservist, will be away for six months and I can't cope with that as a company'."

Our correspondent said this third round of redundancies would be the largest set of cuts faced by the Army so far, and would begin on Tuesday with the identification of the specialisms and ranks to go.

He added: "The majority of those who've been made redundant in the first two rounds have been volunteers.

"But the longer the process, the more brutal it becomes - with a higher proportion this time expected to be forced to leave."