The Archbishop of York has warned that severe defence cuts in Britain will "risk the safety of the nation and the peace of the world".
While delivering his Christmas message to armed forces serving overseas, Dr John Sentamu said Government plans to replace thousands of full-time soldiers with reservists was a bad idea as a "very well trained, professional service" needed to be maintained.
He told the British Forces Broadcasting Service, "My greatest anxiety ... is that these defence cuts need to be done with far, far greater sensitivity because we live still in a world that is very fragile and there are people out there still, wanting to do harm to ... many, many people".
"To replace professionally-trained, full-time serving soldiers with part-timers, I'm afraid, for me, I don't think that can be the backbone of the British Army," the Archbishop continued.
He also paid tribute to the British forces' role as peacekeepers in Afghanistan, calling them "the bravest of the brave", and said he prayed daily for them.
The Archbishop of York warned that defence cuts will compromise Britain's safety as he delivered his Christmas message overseas. In an interview with British Forces Broadcasting Service, Dr John Sentamu said:
"My greatest anxiety... is that these defence cuts need to be done with far, far greater sensitivity because we live still in a world that is very fragile and there are people out there still, wanting to do harm to ... many, many people.
He added: "To replace professionally trained, full time serving soldiers with part-timers, I'm afraid, for me, I don't think that can be the backbone of the British army."
Acting Permanent Under-Secretary Tom McKane said of the plans to cut up to a quarter of senior military and civilian posts in the Armed Forces: "All parts of defence are being restructured as we transform the way the Ministry of Defence does business, and head office is no exception.
"A smaller head office focused on strategic direction and policy, which hands more responsibility to the frontline commands, allows for a better-run organisation."
The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Head Office is to become smaller after plans to cut up to 25% of senior civilian and military staff over the next two years, the defence secretary Philip Hammond has said.
A new senior structure will come into force from April 2013 with fewer senior positions. It is to save the MoD about £3.8m annually.
About 26 civilian and military jobs at Senior Civil Service level - which is equivalent to Commodore, Brigadier and Air Commodore or above - will disappear.
The new Head Office will concentrate more on strategy. In future, it will not get involved in day-to-day management. Frontline commands will be in charge of looking after their own finances.
Families of serving and fallen soldiers, along with ex-servicemen and women, held small-scale demonstrations today across the country against proposed Government cuts to the Army.
They explained their opposition to the plans to merge regiments:
The Government is planning to cut 30,000 troops by 2020 and, being an ex-serviceman myself, I feel it is unnecessary as currently there are more people leaving than joining up, so if we take into account natural wastage we would get the same result without disbanding regiments.
We know there are wars in Afghanistan and problems in Iraq and Syria and we never know when we are going to be called to a conflict.
– Stephen Martin, 57, who served in the Royal Artillery Corps
These cuts will have a devastating effect on the morale of the troops. Not just the cuts but the way the troops are being treated. They are being treated as a stop-gap measure for this Government, for anything they got wrong.
Plus, you've got civilian people being brought in, for instance for the Olympic Games, being given tremendous bonuses and extra pay and there's the poor troops being brought in and put down on cots in warehouses and still expected to do the same job.
– Neil McKinnon, who was a corporal from 1964 to 1976
Speaking ahead of the planned peace vigils being held across the country in protest of the planned defence cuts, Minister of State for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey said the job losses were as a result of the Government inheriting a "very grave economic situation".