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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 August 2006, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Armed forces 'short of personnel'
British soldier in Basra
The armed forces now have 180,690 full-time personnel
The UK's armed forces are nearly 3% short of their required strength, according to defence statistics.

In July 2006, the full-time trained strength of the UK armed forces was 180,690, against a target of 185,870.

BBC world affairs correspondent Jonathan Charles said the personnel shortages made it harder for the armed forces to fulfil overseas deployments.

Shortages were being partly blamed on the prospect of having to serve in war zones and frequent tours of duty.

The proportion of women in the forces rose 0.4 percentage points to 11.4% for officers and 0.1 percentage points to 8.8% of other ranks since July 2005.

Personnel from ethnic minorities rose 0.2 percentage points to 5.6%.

Recruitment campaign

Our correspondent said the lack of personnel was making it harder for the UK's armed forces to fulfil its overseas deployments.

The Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy were now about 3% under strength, compared with some 2% a year ago.

180,690 - 5190 under strength
11.4% of officers and 8.8% of other ranks are female - a rise of .04 and 0.1 percentage points respectively
Personnel from ethnic minorities rose 0.2 percentage points to 5.6%
The armed forces lost 7.6% of officers and 11.4% of other ranks in the 12 months up to 30 June
Source: Defence Analytical Services Agency

The number of men and women leaving the services was also 7.9% greater than the previous year, he said.

The amount of natural wastage in the 12-month period ending 30 June was equivalent to 7.6% of the officer strength and 11.4% of other ranks - compared with 6.7% and 10.3% a year before.

The drop in strength comes despite a successful recruitment campaign in recent months, which saw the number of recruits rise by more than 9%.

The answer is more boots on the ground and as always, war in Afghanistan is being fought on the cheap.
Chapman, Sycamore

Our correspondent said there was anecdotal evidence the thought of having to serve in war zones such as Iraq and the increasingly frequent tours of duty away from home were putting people off from joining or staying in the armed forces.

The figures were part of a regular monthly review of armed forces strength by the Defence Analytical Services Agency.

Troops in Iraq 'under-equipped'
10 Aug 06 |  UK Politics
Can the Army cope with the cuts?
22 Jul 04 |  UK Politics

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