The number of full-time trained personnel in the UK army fell to 74,440 as of 1 July, down from the government target of 82,000, according to the latest figures from a report published by the British Ministry of Defence.
“The current deficit against the workforce requirement is 7.6 % for the UK Armed Forces,” the report said.
The figures indicate that the size of Britain's armed forces has fallen for the ninth consecutive year, also impacting the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy.
The RAF total stood at 29,930 of the required 31,840 personnel, while the Royal Navy and Royal Marines dropped to 29,090 of the required 30,600.
The Defence Ministry said that “the army continues to meet all of its operational commitments to keep Britain safe and we are committed to working with Capita [company] to address remaining challenges”.
UK Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith blamed the government for “running down” the country’s armed forces "year after year”, noting that the army’s size was “well below their own targets”.
“Ministers are either in complete denial about this crisis in recruitment and retention, or they are actively in favour of cutting the armed forces to these historically low levels,” she said, adding, “it is clear that the Conservatives just cannot be trusted with our country's defences.”
Griffith’s statement came amid British MPs’ concerns over the Defence Ministry using private firm Capita in soldier recruitment. The firm has failed to meet recruitment requirements every year since 2012, when Capita was awarded the $601 million contract.