Fifth of British Army Personnel Cannot Be Deployed Overseas

STRANRAER, SCOTLAND - APRIL 16: Soldiers from 16 Air Assault Brigade take part in Exercise Joint Warrior at West Freugh Airfield on April 16, 2012 in Starnraer, Scotland. The operation is taking place in South West Scotland between 15-21 April and focuses on a Theatre Entry operation into a notional …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty

One in five British Army personnel are not fit to or otherwise cannot be deployed overseas, while the force is still 5,000 recruits short of its “tiny” 82,000-man target.

A Freedom of Information request from The Times revealed that 7,200 soldiers cannot be deployed overseas because of ill health while 9,910 are in limited roles or tasks meaning they cannot be sent on exercises or operations abroad.

These figures do not include those untrained personnel and soldiers under the age of 18, who also cannot be deployed to foreign countries.

Army sources told the newspaper that several infantry units within deployable divisions have less than half of their target workforce.

For the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, that proportion is 15 percent and the Royal Air Force 16 percent.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that “Individuals are medically downgraded for a variety of reasons, most of which are minor health concerns that don’t prevent personnel from fulfilling their core duties,” such as in-grown toenails and muscle sprains.

The MoD claimed that the United Kingdom’s armed forces “have enough people to perform their operational requirements to keep Britain safe.”

However, the former head of the Joint Forces Command, General Sir Richard Barrons, described the Army as “tiny”, warning that the notion it “could all be fielded together is a myth” and that “the people don’t exist because of under-recruiting.”

“There is not enough equipment, spares, engineering support or training capacity to field it all at once — nor is there a resourced mobilisation plan for the reserves if they were called up.

“This is a legacy of the campaigns of the past 20 years, [needing] only part of the Army at a time. It doesn’t fit the world as it is now.”

Staffing levels for the Army are still 5,000 below the 82,000 goal, with recruitment being handled by external firm Capita and failing to hit annual recruitment targets every year since 2012.

Breitbart London reported how in November the Armed Forces scrapped the five-year residency rule for Commonwealth recruits, and will open recruitment to Commonwealth citizens who had never lived in the United Kingdom in an effort to overcome personnel shortages.

Germany also announced in December that it was considering recruiting non-citizens from fellow EU nations to its military, to relieve its own shortages.

Germany’s active military manpower 182,000 — falling short of the 203,000 the U.S. has been pressuring the Merkel government to meet by 2025 to fulfill its NATO commitments, while there have been a string of reports detailing the severity of equipment shortages.

UK Defence Journal reported in June 2018 that less than a third of German military assets are operational.

At the end of 2017, the German navy found itself for a time without one operational submarine after the Type 212A submarine U-35 was damaged when its rudder struck a rock off the Norwegian coast.

In 2014, a German battalion assigned to a NATO taskforce joint exercise had to use broomstick handles instead of rifles during training.

U.S. President Donald Trump has criticised Germany for failing to live up to its NATO spending commitments, the European country only spending 1.13 per cent of GDP on defence in 2017 versus the minimum two per cent, while the U.S. paid 4.2 per cent.

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