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British Army Redundancy: Hundreds of Gurkhas face job cuts

- AFP, LONDON

Jan 24, 2014-

More than 1,400 military personnel including hundreds of Gurkhas are to lose their jobs in a final round of redundancies aimed at reshaping Britain's armed forces, the government said on Thursday.

Up to 1,425 members of the army are to go, including around 350 members of the Brigade of Gurkhas which has already suffered cuts in earlier rounds of

job losses.

The job cuts are completed by up to 70 medical and dental officers from the Royal Air Force (RAF) and up to ten from the Royal Navy, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told parliament.

The fourth tranche of redundancies is part of an armed forces re-structuring programme which will see the regular army cut from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while the newly-renamed Army Reserve— formerly the Territorial Army— is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government introduced deep defence cuts in 2010 as part of its bid to rein in Britain's budget deficit.

Hammond acknowledged that the cuts had been a "painful process" but

said that the final round of job losses marked "a

turning point".

"With the bulk of our troops back from Afghanistan by the end of this year and coming back from Germany over the next four years, they will be able to enjoy the peace of mind that comes from belonging to armed forces that have put a period of change and restructuring behind them and are focused on building their skills and capabilities for the future," he told lawmakers.

Former US defence secretary Robert Gates said last week that the extent of the cuts to Britain's military meant it could no longer be a "full partner" to American forces.

Cameron insisted Gates had "got it wrong" and that Britain remained a

"first-class player" on the global stage. Britain has not been able to launch jets at sea since the flagship

carrier Ark Royal was withdrawn in 2010.

A new carrier will not enter service until 2020.

The Gurkhas have been part of Britain's army for nearly 200 years. About 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World War I and World War II and more than 45,000 have died in British uniform. But their numbers have been sharply reduced from a World War II peak of 112,000 men, and now stand at about 3,500.

 

Published: 24-01-2014 09:06

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