Soldier silhouette

The number of troops in the British Army has fallen again, new figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) show.

In April, the number of full-time soldiers fell to 78,407 - 4,000 short of the government's target of 82,000.

The Army says it needs 82,000 trained full-time troops to operate effectively. The figures show it has been below its target strength every month for the past two years.

Documents released alongside the figures said:

"Reasons for leaving the Armed Forces included the impact of service life on family and personal life and opportunities outside."

The Conservatives have dropped a commitment not to reduce the Army to below 82,000 full-time troops from their General Election manifesto.

The Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party have not specifically mentioned troop numbers in their manifestos. UKIP and the Green Party are yet to release theirs. 

Overall, the MoD is 5.1% below its target for full-time troop numbers in the Army, compared with 4.8% in the RAF and 2% in the Royal Navy.

The so-called "voluntary outflow", where personnel choose to leave the Armed Forces, was the most common reason for leaving, rather than other factors such as redundancy.

There were 7,340 personnel that left the forces voluntarily over the past 12 months - 5.4% of all staff.

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