Anonymous Army troops on parade at Bulford
General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said the figure was not part of proposals going into the Integrated Review.
Army

Outgoing Army chief 'not comfortable' with cuts to troop numbers

Anonymous Army troops on parade at Bulford
General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said the figure was not part of proposals going into the Integrated Review.

The outgoing head of the British Army has said he was "not comfortable" when he learnt the service would be cut to 73,000 personnel.

In an exclusive interview with Soldier Magazine before leaving the post, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said the figure was not part of proposals going into the Integrated Review.

"I'm not comfortable with an Army of just 73,000," he told Soldier Magazine.

"It's too small. That was never part of our proposition going into the review.

"In fact, I was working to direction that we regrow the Army to 82,000 - and we have done that successfully over the past four years.

"So being limited to 73,000 people was quite a surprise - and it's a bit of an arbitrary figure because it's just a price point."

General Carleton-Smith added there needs to be "an amalgamation of what we think we can afford" and what is needed to create a balanced force.

Watch: Army chief wants to see greater investment in larger service.

"There's no point having an Army that you can't equip properly," he said.

Gen Carleton-Smith also said British Army reservists could have a larger role to play domestically if the Regular force is deployed abroad.

"We need to get more out of them because we can't hook the Regular force held at high readiness into a whole host of domestic tasks," he said.

"The Government looks to have an appetite to use the Army more than they used to, so we should expect a higher level of commitment in the support of national resilience.

"It's an important role the Reserve can play."

It comes after Gen Carleton-Smith  told the Policy Exchange think tank in April that he would like to see a "balanced land force of about 110,000", regular and reserve combined, to give "depth and resilience to our current structure".

"I think our structure and the growing shopping list of potential outputs in the wake of a redefinition of European defence and deterrents, which I am sure Ukraine heralds, I think, is going to demand more of the field force and I would like to see greater investment in a larger Army," he said last month.