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Defence 'Uncertainty' In Wales Could Impact Recruitment, MPs Warn

A group of MPs has warned more "clarity" about the future of defence in Wales is needed.

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MPs have said the Government "must provide clarity" about the future of the Armed Forces in Wales (Picture: MOD).

A group of MPs have warned more "clarity" about the future of defence in Wales is needed from the Government.

A report by the Welsh Affairs Committee suggests "uncertainty" could impact upon recruitment.

MPs wrote the closure of two major Army bases and eight Army recruitment centres could affect recruitment numbers and the local economy.

The committee's report raised concerns that eight of 12 career centres in Wales had closed, suggesting "many potential applicants still face long travelling distances, a factor that can affect application numbers".

Cawdor Barracks is due to be shut in 2024 and Brecon Barracks in 2027.

The Welsh Affairs Committee warns "long travelling distances" as a result of closures could reduce the number of applicants.

It said the Government "must provide clarity about the future defence footprint in Wales".

Wales, which makes up 5% of the UK's population, is only home to 2% of Armed Forces personnel.

But that could decrease to 1% if further base closures do happen, the committee warned.

A Royal Air Force Hawk T1 jet aircraft flies high above it's base at RAF Valley in Anglesey, Wales (Picture: Ministry of Defence).
Wales is home to RAF Valley where UK fighter jet pilots are trained (Picture: MOD).

Between 2012-2018, there has been a 21% decrease in regular military personnel in the country.

A report published earlier this year stated there was a 7.6% deficit against the required workforce in the regular British military.

David Davies MP, Conservative and chair of the committee, said: "The decision to close the two main Army bases in Wales - Brecon and Cawdor Barracks - and the clustering of units in the south of England will have a profound impact on the surrounding communities.

"The location of all Welsh combat units outside of Wales poses a very real challenge to the preservation of Welsh connections and identity."

The report called on the Government to make a decision on the relocation of regiments currently based in Wales. 

The MPs said the Ministry of Defence (MOD) should explore the possibility of relocating at least one of the Welsh combat units from England to Wales. 

The UK and Welsh Governments were also urged to reverse the decision to relocate an RAF Training School from MOD St Athan.

The MPs said ministers must "urgently provide clarity about future plans" for the site.

The committee also warned that "uncertainty" in defence estates in Wales could also affect local defence industries and programmes.

It said "steps should be taken" to make sure Welsh businesses are protected.

Cambrian Patrol Brecon MOD
Troops on Exercise Cambrian Patrol in Wales (Picture: MOD).

Responding to the report, an MOD spokesperson said: "We remain committed to maintaining a long-term defence presence in Wales.

"We invest nearly £1 billion in local industries and military bases in Wales are home to essential RAF training programmes and exercise areas.

"We thank the Welsh Affairs Committee for their report and will now consider their assessment and recommendations carefully."