Amidst all the spending increases of the last two years, the MOD has been the subject of cuts. We have been told these are deep and damaging. We have learned that we will have fewer tanks, ships and other military equipment. We read of redundancies for troops.
I decided to ask a few questions to see how they were getting on. Let’s begin today with the army. This is being reduced to fewer than 100,000 personnel in uniform. I asked how many Majors were needed to command the units of such an army, expecting to hear it was around 800, with each Major commanding about 120 people. I was told the army currently has 4700 Majors, or six times what you might expect.
A Lieutenant Colonel typically commands a battalion of 650 people. You would expect 150 of them in our slimmed down forces. Instead I was told we currently employ 1780, or 12 times the number you might expect. Indeed, you could form three battalions just of Lieutenant Colonels.
An army does need some senior staff officers. You might have thought we needed around 15, given the number of brigades. Instead, I discover we employ 580 Colonels, or 38 times what one might expect.
We are a bit shorter of Generals. There are 6 full General officers, 9 Lieutenant Generals , 43 Major Generals and 170 Brigadiers. If a brigade is around 2000 people, you might expect 50 Brigadiers. There is one senior officer for each battle tank, and around 8 Lieutenant Colonels for each tank.
So we have a pay bill of over £400 million for top management in the army, with a diminishing number of people to command. Is this cut to the bone?