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Army to shed 1,400 more soldiers in fourth round of cuts

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is set to announce the cuts which will bring the number of Britain's soldiers down to around 82,000 by next year

Soldiers will be encouraged to join the reserve army

The army could be slashed by a further 1,400 soldiers in a fourth round of devastating cuts.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will announce the move today (January 23) - bringing Britain’s number of soldiers down to around 82,000 by next year.

More than 350 of those being axed will be Nepali soldiers from the legendary Gurkha Rifles, although it is believed more than two thirds of these will be voluntary redundancies.

The latest cuts will also mean about 70 RAF men and women are set to lose their jobs and, just like their army comrades, will be told they are leaving in mid-June.

Soldiers in Aldershot and the rest of the UK will learn in the next few days which section are facing selection for redundancy, allowing those who want to leave to apply for a pay-off package. The final decision will be confirmed in June.

Yesterday the Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall said: "This redundancy tranche marks the final leg in our reduction of the army from its former strength towards 82,500.

"It’s the end of a period of significant uncertainty, albeit the relatively small number affected in this final tranche who will get our particular attention in making sure that they are fairly treated and support their transition to civilian life.

"This actually draws a line under the forced exodus of people from the Army and we are now concentrating on drawing in the right talent to populate the future Army structure which is all about our operational readiness for future challenges."

The defence cuts were started in 2010 and have been particularly harsh to the army, which will this year be at its lowest in numbers since The Crimean War.

Many of those leaving are being encouraged to join the ranks of the reserve army which will swell to 30,000 by 2020 to push army regular and standby numbers to around 110,000.

The overall effect of the cuts on Aldershot are not expected to be too severe due to plans to bring two additional infantry battalions - around 750 soldiers - to the town as part of £100m of Ministry of Defence investment.

 
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