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FRIENDLY FIRED; 5,000 more soldiers will face axe, leaked Army memo reveals.

Byline: CHRIS HUGHES

THE head of the Army has warned of a fresh wave of soldier redundancies that will wipe out entire battalions, a leaked letter has revealed.

Many will have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where 556 British troops have been killed since the 9-11 attacks.

General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff (CGS), admits 5,000 more soldiers will be axed on top of the 7,000 the Government has already announced.

In a letter to senior officers, he warned that the cuts will lead to battalions being disbanded which will have a "sobering" impact on troops and their families.

In the leaked memo, Gen Sir Peter wrote: "Regular Army manpower will be cut more steeply with an additional reduction of 5,000 over and above the 7,000 already in progress as a result of the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

"This takes the Army to around 90,000 by 2015. Additional manpower cuts are now being scoped but will inevitably require a further redundancy programme. Although detailed planning is not yet complete, we must assume that these reductions will require the further removal of formed battalions and further regiments from the Force structure, including the combat arm."

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said last week he will plough resources into the Territorial Army and equip it for frontline duties, while the Army would be cut to 82,000 by 2020.

Yesterday the Ministry of Defence insisted no one about to embark on a tour of duty in Afghanistan would be made redundant unless they put themselves forward.

The MoD said: "The Defence Secretary has agreed with CGS that we will move gradually towards the new Army structure so operations are not adversely affected by additional reductions in regular Army numbers, which will be made as we draw down our commitments in Afghanistan in 2014/15.

"No one who is preparing for or is deployed on operations will be made redundant unless they volunteer. Only those who have returned from operations and have taken all their operational leave will be considered."

He went on: "The aiming mark for 2020 is clear... Be assured, we will continue to field a world class Army."

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WARNING Gen Sir Peter Wall blasts cuts BRAVE Our boys in Afghanistan
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Jul 26, 2011
Words:380
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