Despite running an intensive new series of adverts (scroll down to the bottom of the page) the British Army has recruited less numbers than it needs with more than four out of five places on Army training courses left unfilled.
Only 14 would-be troops signed up for the standard common infantry course at Catterick, North Yorkshire, in one of this year’s batches – despite 96 spaces being available.
The revelations expose the true scale of the staffing meltdown which has stripped the Army back to its lowest level since before the Napoleonic wars 200 years ago.
Retired Army Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan, said: “This indicates a growing crisis because the Army is under-strength.
“The deficiencies and shortages in training new recruits are something that will have a big impact on the Army in six months’ time when they should be passing out.
“That’s bad enough but also taxpayers’ resources are being wasted because at an establishment like Catterick resources aren’t being utilised as they should be.
“One of the problems is that it becomes cumulative and a vicious circle.
“If a unit is under-manned it means that the soldiers’ duties come round more frequently, like guard duty and other tasks.
“People have to work harder to cover up for those who aren’t there and that in turn has a detrimental effect on retention.
“We are building-up future manpower problems.”
Stats show that of 3,984 places available in 37 Catterick courses starting between July 2015 and June this year, just two thirds – 2,606 – were filled.
An MoD spokesman said it was “wrong to confuse the number of Army Training Centre places with recruitment targets”.
He added: “Armed Forces recruitment levels are good and the Army has enough people to perform the operational requirements that help keep Britain safe.”