Britain’s frontline forces are facing a manning shortfall which exceeds the total number of troops deployed to Afghanistan, an influential House of Commons watchdog body warned today.
The Public Accounts Committee said the armed services were currently 5850 men and women short of full strength, and that the damage of repeated tours of duty to family life had reached crisis point for many.
There are 5700 service personnel in Afghanistan, where they endure daily attacks from Taliban insurgents. Two were killed at the weekend, bringing the number who have died there since 2001 to 63.
The committee’s report on recruitment and retention said bluntly that there were too few soldiers, sailors and airmen to meet the demands of simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Frequent overseas deployments, heavier workloads and the problem of balancing service and family life were among the main reasons for a leaving rate which had hit a 10-year peak.
Too few troops to fight two wars