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Armed Forces to slash 33,000 troops to balance books

The Armed Forces will be forced to slash 33,000 troops in order to balance the books at the Ministry of Defence, an influential think tank report has disclosed.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent and Aislinn Laing, Defence Correspondent

Published: 7:31AM GMT 13 Jan 2010

With the likelihood of a real terms cut of 15 per cent to the defence budget the number of tanks, ships and planes will also have to be similarly reduced.

Britain’s place at the “top table” for world security is likely to be threatened with the economic downturn influencing its ability to equip and pay for a premier military.

The news comes as new figures show that infantry battalions are employing 5,000 troops – a fifth of their strength – who are not fit for service. The MoD is also said to be preparing to force out wounded soldiers who can no longer be used for the front line.

Enforced budget cuts will mean that the Armed Forces total strength will fall from 175,000 to 142,000 by 2016 said the report by the think tank Royal United Services Institute.

The projected 20 per cent reduction of service personnel would cause “considerable upheaval” with bases closed and employees made redundant.

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