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.