11/06/2014

National Audit Office: 'Army Cut Plans Brings Risks'

The National Audit Office (NAO) has warned of "significant risks" posed by government plans to scale back the UK's regular Army and increase reservists, saying the decision was taken without "appropriate testing of feasibility".

The restructuring programme, which is known as Army 2020, was set out in the coalition's 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

Regular forces will be reduced from 102,000 in 2010 to 82,000 in 2018, while the reservist force must grow from 19,000 to 30,000 by 2018 to replace them.

However in the year to April, just 170 more reservists had been recruited, short of the government's required 2,750-a-year target.

The NAO report said the program of cutting regular forces and replacing them with reservists had been authorised without any feasibility tests being carried out and the recruitment process had been plagued by IT problems.

The chief of the National Audit Office Amyas Morse said said military judgement played an important role in the overall strategic plan, but added the MoD and Army "must get a better understanding of significant risks to Army 2020.

"Notably, the extent to which it is dependent on other major programmes and the risk that the shortfall in recruitment of new reserves will up the pressure on regular units," he said.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Commons public accounts committee, said the £1m a month being spent to cover "incompetence" in the reservist recruitment process was "scandalous".

(CVS/IT)

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