This blog has noted before that the indications are that come 2015, with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new SDSR will look to reduce the army from its current planned weight of 95,000 to a lower figure closer to 80,000, and while it is impossible to confirm the rumour it just keeps on popping up. This time it is an article in the telegraph discussing manpower problems within the SAS, and how this would be exacerbated by a still further reduced army.
Maybe there is an element of truth within all this rampant speculation?
The article states:
The staffing crisis that has gripped the SAS is said to have led to urgent discussions between the Director of Special Forces and senior Army commanders.
SAS officers, both serving and retired, have made it clear that the manpower situation could become “irretrievable” if the Army is reduced to a predicted 82,000 men in the 2015 defence review, further shrinking the pool of troops available.
There are also strategic issues, since the SAS is seen as the biggest asset that Britain has to offer in the alliance with America alongside the nuclear deterrent.
Despite the SDSR supplementary documents stating that future troop level projections of 95,000 were based on the 2015 time frame, in both the Future Force 2020 fact sheet and the British Army fact sheet, the main SDSR merely states that it assumes the Army will be 94,000 strong by this point.
The natural assumption is for the reader to slide from the 2015 figure of 95,000 to the 2020 figure of 94,000 and sigh to oneself; “well, after what we’ve just been through another 1,000 is of no real significance given that we are talking about ten years time!”. At our most forgiving we might brand this as obtuse language easy therefore to misinterpret, at worst we might call it disingenuous.
How long until they come clean?