The Head of the Armed Forces has warned it could be several years before Army recruitment targets are met.
General Sir Nick Carter told the Commons Defence Committee the service would have a shortfall of around 3000 recruits this year.
The Chief of the Defence Staff added he expected the situation to change.
"If things continue to improve in the way they are doing now, my expectation is that we will do much better in the next recruiting year than we have done in this one".
His comments come after the Committee was told in October the Army currently has 77,000 fully trained troops compared with a target of 82,500.
General Carter also said some "appalling lessons" have been learned as a result of Capita controversially being awarded the contract for Army recruitment in 2012.
Asked by Conservative former Defence Minister Mark Francois whether the recruitment and manning shortfalls are entirely the fault of Capita, General Carter said they are not.
Mr Francois also suggested the General was in denial about the scale of the problem.
The deal with Capita is expected to run until 2022, with General Carter telling the committee the company will hit its recruiting target "before the contract expires".