The latest round of Army redundancies was 40 per cent oversubscribed by volunteers wanting to quit, an official breakdown shows, prompting concerns of falling morale.
The Army announced 4,450 redundancies in June as part of ongoing cuts to the Armed Forces from the Government’s cost-cutting defence reviews.
A breakdown of the job losses shows that 6,210 soldiers had wanted to leave and applied for a redundancy package.
The demand to leave was higher in officers where the Army made 240 redundant, but had 380 applicants step forward to quit.
Military sources said the number of applicants had surprised commanders and was far higher than earlier rounds in 2011 and 2012, where there were more job cuts than volunteers.
The prospect of a dwindling Army conducting fewer operations with less equipment has hit morale and made many reconsider their uncertain futures, according to military insiders.
Army chiefs are particularly concerned they are losing a generation of officers who have gained invaluable experience from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
One senior Army source said: “It’s the worst I have seen it and we are losing some real high flyers who could have great careers in front of them.
“These are not old duffers, we are talking about highly experienced middle-ranking officers who have spent the last 12 years in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Col Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said many soldiers now viewed the Army as a “declining industry”.
He said: “People who had hoped to serve out full careers and have the expected career path and progression are seeing it shattered as the Army is cut to pieces.
“A lot of people are seeing their friends made redundant and that causes a lot of discontent. There’s a lot of concern about people losing allowances and how that will hit their standards of living.”
He said it would be “incredibly difficult” to replace the hard-won experience held by many of those leaving.
He said: “You can’t train it overnight, it takes a great deal of time and hard work to get to that stage. I think in the long term, we are going to see the Army suffer for this.”
The Army is being slimmed down from 100,000 to 82,000 by 2020 as part of the Government’s defence cuts.
Gen Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff, acknowledged earlier this year that as the cuts bit, they were creating gaps and leaving soldiers unsettled and frustrated.
Catherine Spencer, chief executive of the Army Families’ Federation said there could be concerns about morale, but said the redundancy offer had also been open to large numbers of soldiers.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said a huge number of soldiers had chosen to stay, “so it is not a reflection on morale in the Army”.
He said: “The last set of redundancies were the largest to date so it is only natural that we would expect more soldiers to have applied for this tranche.
“We have worked hard to make sure that soldiers selected for redundancy receive a generous redundancy package and it is not surprising that a number of soldiers, having served their country with distinction for a number of years, were looking for a fresh challenge.”
See on www.telegraph.co.uk