Army to be cut by nearly 10,000 troops as use of drones and technology increases

The army is to be cut from 82,000 troops to 72,500 in Monday’s Defence Command Paper which sets the way ahead for the armed forces.

But the professional head of the armed forces General Sir Nick Carter says it is not their size and shape that matters, it is their lethality and their relevance.

Relevance is key.

Technology is moving so quickly and potential opponents are so rapidly exploiting the so-called ‘grey zone’ between war and peace that Britain’s armed forces need to change quickly.

The Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says people can disagree with his choices - although I understand he will not be retiring any ‘cap badges’ - but this is strategy that is based on the future battlefield, not sentiment.

At Bovington Camp in Dorset, we were shown an array of drones and autonomous vehicles.

There are drones to deliver supplies, to stream video, to fire weapons. Soon there will be drones to attack other drones.

And critically, all of it is connected to the troops on the ground. They all now carry an Android based device that locates their comrades and, potentially, the enemy.

A soldier shows ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen a device that locates their comrades. Credit: ITV News

There will also be greater specialisation with new Special Ops Ranger regiments and an experimentation battle group.

But some have concerns that the army is getting too small.

Retired Major General Tim Cross says cutting the army (again) could now make it more difficult for the UK to field a full armoured Division - in theory the smallest self-sustaining military unit - alongside NATO Allies.

But the truth is that army manning numbers haven’t actually hit their 82,000 target for some time. In fact the army is currently under 74,000 strong.

And General Carter says this, one of the most fundamental shifts in the UK’s use of armed force, is the right combination to meet the kind of threat opponents like Russia currently pose.

He also says this new strategy for the forces is fully funded, which makes a change from previous reviews.