Britain Cutting Army by a Fifth

Budget cuts to shrink force by end of decade
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2012 8:33 AM CDT
British military armored vehicles arrive to the scene after one of their armored vehicles was hit by an improvised explosive device, killing six British soldiers in Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan,...   (AP Photo/Abdul Khaleq)

(Newser) – The British Army is taking a sizable cut as part of the government's austerity drive. The country's defense secretary unveiled plans yesterday to cut the force's 102,000 troops to 82,000 by the end of this decade, axing a total of 17 units and merging others, the Guardian reports. The number of reservists will double under the military's plan to create a "balanced, capable and adaptable force" for the future, he said.

The defense secretary admitted that Army morale was "fragile," but said the cuts were necessary because of the "shocking mess“ the previous government had made of the military budget. Critics warned that the cuts could leave the country vulnerable if the next decade proves to be no more peaceful than the last one. "Jobs and military capability have been lost and tradition and history have been sacrificed,” said the opposition Labour Party’s defense spokesman, according to AP. “This isn’t just a smaller army. It’s also a less powerful army in a less influential nation.” (Read more Britain stories.)

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