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Former defence minister: Army could be cut to 60,000

The Government is already planning to cut the army to 82,000 troops by 2020. Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials are examining proposals for an army of 60,000 soldiers, former coalition defence minister Sir Nick Harvey has said.

Sir Nick said paper exercises were going on to examine further cuts to troop numbers due to the impending "financial crunch" faced by the MoD.

The Government's existing Army 2020 plans envisage a shrunken regular force of 82,000 with the number of reservists rising to 30,000.

Sir Nick told MPs: "There are already paper exercises going on in looking at what an army of just 60,000 would look like because of the financial crunch that the department is going to be facing."

The Liberal Democrat MP was speaking in the Commons during a debate on Trident renewal.

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Army Reserve age limit is raised to 52

The upper age limit for some soldiers to join the Army Reserve has been increased by nine years to 52.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the age limit for individuals with specific qualifications or experience has been raised from 45 to 50, while the maximum age for ex-regular soldiers joining was increased earlier this year from 43 to 52.

The upper age limit for some soldiers to join the Army Reserve has been been increased to 52. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire.

A spokeswoman said the MoD made "no apology" for revising the age requirements, adding, "All recruits have to meet strict fitness requirements, or could face discharge."

The upper age limit for ex-regular soldiers to join was increased in May to "better reflect demographics and health of the population" and widen the recruitment poo.

MoD: RAF drone joined attacks against militants in Iraq

An unmanned RAF 'Reaper' drone carried out attacks against militants in Iraq. Credit: Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that an unmanned RAF 'Reaper' drone carried out attacks against militants in Iraq for the first time at the weekend.

The MoD said the drone was used during a series of coalition missions conducted near Bayji, north of Baghdad and "successfully attacked the terrorists using a Hellfire missile".

The drone also provided "intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to coalition aircraft which enabled them to conduct further strikes" according to the MoD.

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MoD: Very presence of aircraft over Iraq has an impact

The Ministry of Defence said the "very presence" of coalition aircraft over Iraq has "a significant impact" on Islamic State’s efforts to attack locally.

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft have been flying over Iraq. Credit: RAF/MoD Crown Copyright 2014

"With no effective defence against air strikes, and knowing the precision with which coalition aircraft can hit them, the terrorists are forced to be much more cautious, keeping their forces dispersed and movement inhibited," a spokesperson said.

"They also know that should they concentrate to deliver an attack against Iraqi or Kurdish troops, aircraft are likely to arrive overhead very soon afterwards."

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