MP’s concern over troop number fall

MP Andrew Bowie  has expressed concern over a drop in troop numbers
MP Andrew Bowie has expressed concern over a drop in troop numbers

A North-east MP has voiced fresh opposition to any further defence cuts as it emerged that nearly 18,000 army personnel are not medically fit to be deployed to war zones.

West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Conservative Andrew Bowie warned the Army does not currently have the manpower to deal with global threats posed by Russia, North Korea and Islamic terrorism.

The Army is meant to be 82,000-strong but has already fallen to 78,407 as soldier and officer numbers have eroded.

Figures uncovered by Mr Bowie through a parliamentary question indicate just 60,546 members of the army are fit enough to be sent to the frontline... meaning that one in five soldiers is not considered fit for battle.

The former Royal Navy officer said it was “appalling” that troop numbers had been allowed to get so low.

He has already spoken out against the prospect of further cuts to army numbers as the government looks to make £2billion in savings from the defence budget.

Mr Bowie said: “The concern among Conservative MPs is that the Army is too small as it is, cutting it down to 82,000 was a mistake in the first place.

“You are always going to have people who are medically unable to serve, but in the Armed Forces it is a serious worry that we have so many unable to serve as it drives down the level of our forces.

“The concern is that we have full time army of only 60,000 is simply not enough to do the jobs that we are asking them to do.

“It is quite clear myself and other MPs are deeply unhappy about the rumours coming from the Ministry of Defence, any further cuts to the defence budget would be unacceptable in the eyes of many MPs.”