The Defence Secretary has confirmed that the British Army, headquartered in Andover, will see significant cuts over the coming years.

As part of the Integrated Review of the UK’s armed forces and foreign policy, the army will be cut from 82,000 to 72,500 by 2025.

The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said that investments in technology “mean that greater effect can be delivered by fewer people.”

However, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, said that the cuts were “dangerous” and would not have passed a parliamentary vote if it were put to MPs.

The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, published on March 16, first detailed proposed changes to the military in the coming decade, with a focus on disrupting threats “below the threshold of war” and in new arenas such as space and cyberspace, with “persistent engagement” throughout the world by the military.

It has today (March 22) been supplemented by a Defence Command Paper, which lays out changes to the armed forces, with the army bearing the brunt of cuts.

It will be reduced to 72,500 by 2025, from a current level of 76,500, and be a reduction of over 45,000 soldiers in the past decade. The established strength of 82,000 has, according to the Defence Secretary, not been met since the middle of the 2010s.

While there are cuts, organisational changes are limited at this time, with the exception of the Second Battalion of the Mercian Regiment being merged with the first to form a new battalion. More changes to the structure of the army are set to be announced before the summer.

The Defence Secretary said: “The army’s increased deployability and technological advantage will mean that greater effect can be delivered by fewer people.”

There will be increases in funding to improve accommodation for personnel, as well as on childcare.

He continued: “Previous reviews have been overambitious and underfunded, leaving forces that were overstretched and underequipped. This increased funding offers defence an exciting opportunity to turn our current forces into credible ones, modernising for the threats of the 2020s and beyond and contributing to national prosperity in the process.

“It marks a shift from mass mobilisation to information age speed, readiness and relevance for confronting the threats of the future.”

However, the chair of the Defence Select Committee, which scrutinises military policy, was critical of the cut to troop numbers, though welcomed other aspects of the paper.

Tobias Ellwood MP said: “The Defence Secretary should be congratulated for advancing our force structure, for investments in cyber… and autonomous platforms, but they come at a huge price to our conventional defence posture with dramatic cuts to our troop numbers, tanks, armoured fighting vehicles and over 100 RAF aircraft including fast jets and heavy lift cuts, which if tested by a parliamentary vote I don’t believe would pass.

“Why? Because the Government’s own Integrated Review paper spells out in very clear language how dangerous this next decade will be, more so than in the Cold War where defence spending was plus 4 per cent of GDP.

“Today we face multiple complex threats to our security and our prosperity, yet our defence spend remains at a peacetime level of just 2.2 per cent. With international rivalry increasing and Western influence on the retreat, we must wake up to how dangerous the next decade will be.”

He called for spending on the military to be increased to three per cent of GDP.

Meanwhile, John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, said the review will “repeat many of the same mistakes” of the past.

He told the Commons: ““How can the secretary of state argue that these deeper cuts will not limit our forces’ capacity simultaneously to deploy overseas, support allies, maintain strong national defences and also reinforce domestic resilience as they have been helping our country through the recent Covid crisis?”

The Defence Secretary responded: “I slightly get the impression that no matter what I brought today to this House that speech would have been trumped out.”