More than 15,000 soldiers quit the British Army last year as commanders struggled against falling morale.
The figure represents almost one in five of the 83,340 soldiers serving and is thought to be the greatest single fall in 20 years.
According to official Ministry of Defence figures only 1,759 of the 15,325 regular troops to have left in the year leading to November did so because their time was up.
In 2016 no British soldiers died in combat, the first year with no loss of life since 1968. Post Afghanistan, post Iraq: what is the point of the army? What do we want them to do?
Nearly half – 7,439 – quit early, exceeding the 7,260 who left the Armed Forces during the previous year. There are now concerns that worsening conditions and a lack of “operational tempo” is failing to keep soldiers motivated.
Major General Rupert Jones who until August of this year was Deputy Commander-Strategy and Support for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve said “The days of the clean-cut war, the clean-cut battle, the Union Jack flying over Port Stanley, you had a good guy and a bad guy, you had the battle, you won the battle: that isn’t how warfare feels now.”
“It sounds lame but modern soldiering is more about government objectives met. There’s not going to be a victory parade.”
The Army have launched a huge advertising campaign this year that has been very successful. An MoD spokesman said: “The Army has enough people to perform all of its tasks to keep Britain safe and continues to offer exciting opportunities that inspire the best of our young people. We’ve seen an increase in recruitment over the last year and we expect this trend to continue.”